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Bobby Ross age 49 of Ludlow, KY, passed away Saturday August 27, 2016. Funeral services will be Tuesday at 6:00PM at Ronald B. Jones Funeral Home in Ludlow, KY, with visitation Tuesday after 4:00PM. Graveside services will be Wednesday at 12:00PM at Angel Cemetery in Stearns. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Specialty Select Hospital in Fort Thomas, KY. Ronald B Jones Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

In an effort to shine a light on local issues and news events, WHAY Radio is set to begin a new current issues program, focused on McCreary County issues, events and people. The program, called “McCreary Issues,” will premiere on Tuesday August 30th from 6:00-7:00pm on 98.3FM and plans include airing the program once per month, the last Tuesday of the month, on WHAY. Listen to WHAY and watch the website (www.hay98.com) and Facebook page for details and schedules of program topics and guests.

The McCreary County Board of Education met in regular session this past Thursday, with one issue not on their agenda being the possible increase in the tax rate set by the school board. That issue will be taken up during a special meeting set for Friday September 9th at 6:00pm at which public comment will be accepted on the possibility of a tax hike. During Thursday's regular meeting, school district finance staff gave an update to the board and those in attendance, starting with positive news that the district realized better than 90% of its projected revenue for the last year while spending less than 90% of the projected allocation amount in the budget. They then dropped the other shoe on the district's finance picture, perhaps setting the stage for a tax increase to raise additional revenue, by saying that the school district is in desperate need of new school buses, something that comes at a hefty price tag. The school board has several options in terms of setting the tax rate for the year, including essentially leaving the rate as is, an increase of up to 4%, which requires a public meeting such as the one scheduled for September 9th, and what is known as the “nickel” tax which requires a public vote. Again, the special meeting is set for Friday September 9th at 6:00pm followed by the board's regular meeting on Thursday September 22nd at 6:30pm.

During this month's meeting, the school board also voted to reject the lone bid received for drug testing in the district after personnel reported displeasure with the service provided in the previous year. Superintendent Mike Cash said a plan is being formulated to deal with the issue of drug testing and that will be presented to the board later. The board also agreed to approve emergency certification for a full time certified position, after Cash said the advertising process had yielded no qualified applicants. Board members Roxanne Shook and Nelda Gilreath voted against the move, but it passed by a 3-2 vote. The board meeting also included updates from each local school principal, as well as other departments like food service, athletics and technology.

The August session of the McCreary County Grand Jury was light with only two indictments handed down this month. Jamie Lynch of Whitley City was formally charged with flagrant non-support for allegedly failing to make court ordered child support payments for her two infant children in an amount over $1,000. Lynch also faces a charge for being a persistent felony offender. Jonathan Thomas of Whitley City was also indicted by the grand jury on a count of fraudulent use of a debit or credit card over $500 but less than $10,000. He is accused of knowingly and unlawfully using a card not issue to him to obtain cash and merchandise in the total amount of more than $2,300. Listeners are reminded that an indictment by the grand jury is a formal charge in a case, but is not a finding of guilt.

The McCreary Central Raider football team lost in a very tight contest Friday night to Lynn Camp by a final tally of 38-36. This brings the Raiders record even so far on the 2016 season at 1-1, with hopes of rebounding with a win over Clinton County on the road this coming Friday September 2nd. The Raiders will then travel to Providence, Indiana on September 9th, before hosting Berea on September 16th. One of only two wins recorded by the Raiders last season came against Berea. The other win last year was against Jenkins, whom the Raiders beat in their season opener this year.

The Lady Raider volleyball team lost all three matches this weekend in the Berea Invitational, bringing their record to 6-9 so far. They will host Lincon County tonight (Monday August 29th) at 5:30pm, followed by a home match against Russell County Tuesday evening.

The McCreary Central girls' soccer team dropped one to Southwestern Saturday, bring their early record to 1-2 on the season. They will travel to Knox Central today, then to Scott County, Tennessee Tuesday and to Pulaski County on Thursday. Their next home match is not until September 12th when the team will host Knox Central.

The McCreary Central Cross Country track team also took part in the “Catbird Classic” at North Laurel High School this past weekend, but results were not yet available in that contest.

He used the excuse of spreading the word of God to inmates, but a man in Whitley County who came to minister ended up being arrested and charged with bringing contraband into the jail. It happened last week at the Whitley County Detention Center when Gary Smiddy came for a church service at the facility. His own son, also named Gary Smiddy, was searched by officers who found a stash of contraband including e-cigarettes, liquids used in e-cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, baggies of crystal meth and several pills among other items. A review of video surveillance revealed that the son allegedly got the items from his father's guitar case while he was at the jail. Recorded phone calls also reportedly turned up several others suspects involved in the plot to sneak items into the jail. Arrested were the elder Smiddy, along with his wife Peggy, and son Joshua Smiddy. Also charged with the younger Smiddy who was already in jail, his wife Melissa and another inmate named James Goins. All were charged with promoting contraband first and second degree, trafficking in marijuana and trafficking in a controlled substance first degree. Williamsburg Police are working with Whitley County Jail officials as they continue the investigations. They say they believe Smiddy may have smuggled items into the jail on previous occasions as well.

The staff of the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area are offering several weekend programs in McCreary County, on the Kentucky side of the park. A reading ranger program will be offered for youth at the McCreary County Public Library Saturday morning at 10:30am, followed by an arts and crafts project. A program on the American Black Bear, including black bear biology, staying safe in bear country and keeping bears wild, will be held Saturday evening (August 27th) at 7:00pm at the Blue Heron Campground amphitheater. The weekly nature hike at Yahoo Falls will take place Sunday morning (August 28th) starting at 11:00am from the Yahoo Falls parking area, located just off Highway 700 west of Whitley City. For information or directions to any of the programs this weekend, call the Blue Heron Interpretive Center at 606-376-3787. You can also visit the park's website at www.nps.gov/biso.

The Pulaski County Coroner's Officer confirmed this week that a Burnside man drowned in the Cumberland River this past weekend while apparently swimming with friends. Reports indicate that 47 year old Homer Davis, Jr. was swimming in the river Sunday just before midnight when he went under and did not resurface. The exact cause of the drowning was not known.

A deputy jailer working for the Wayne County Jail was arrested this week, facing charges that he smuggled in contraband for an inmate in custody. Dewey Adam Burks was arrested at the jail on Monday and was charged with promoting contraband, two counts of trafficking in a controlled substance and official misconduct after he allegedly took hydrocodone, oxycodone, chewing tobacco and smoking tobacco inside the Wayne County Jail. The inmate involved, identified as Charles Doan, is also facing charges in the case.

The McCreary County Chamber of Commerce is getting set for its annual banquet and awards ceremony, which will be held Thursday October 20th. The Chamber's leadership announced last week that Kentucky Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton will be the guest speaker for the event, which will also include the presentation of annual awards by the Chamber. Those awards include student of the year, citizen of the year, educator of the year and business or business person of the year. Nominations are being taken now for those awards with a nominating deadline of September 30th, before the Chamber board will review and make decisions on award recipients. You do not have to be a Chamber member to make a nomination, and the nominee also does not have to be a Chamber member. Pick up nomination forms at the McCreary County Public Library or look up “McCreary County Chamber of Commerce” on Facebook for information.

Each year, the Scott County, Tennessee Chamber of Commerce partners with sponsors to host the “Wings Over Big South Fork Air & Car Show” at the Scott County Municipal Airport in Oneida. This year, the event is the 13th annual and will be held Saturday September 10th. Event organizers have announced that vendor spaces will be available for the day's activities, which include everything from a class car show to World War II aircraft on display, stunt planes and displays. The vendor spaces open are for non-food related vendors such as arts, crafts and general merchandise. Vendor space costs start at $40 per space and can be obtained by contacting the Scott County Chamber of Commerce at 423-663-6900 or by visiting www.wingsoverbigsouthfork.com.

According to an online post by The McCreary County Voice Monday afternoon, a local inmate escaped custody while being transported to court earlier in the day. Jimmy Troxell was being escorted from a transport van into the McCreary County Courthouse when he apparently slipped away from officers and made his escape. He was facing charges of possession of a forged instrument and theft by deception, and will now reportedly face the additional charge of felony escape once captured. The Voice reports that officers believe Troxell may have had someone waiting nearby in a vehicle to aid in the escape. The search for the escapee continues as of last report.

Authorities in Whitley County reported the raid of an underage drinking party this past Saturday night on a farm off Cripple Creek Road. The Whitley County Sheriff's Department says officers received a tip about the party and responded, finding about 300 people in attendance, including many who were said to be underage. 51 year old Douglas Monroe Jones was taken into custody, charged with unlawful transaction with a minor and alcohol intoxication in a public place. Also arrested were 19 year old Dustin White and 22 year old Tyler Jones, charged with multiple offenses. Officers contacted parents for the minors involved and say those were able to pass field sobriety tests were allowed to leave the party. The investigation into the incident continues by the Whitley County Sheriff's Department.

Those who normally harvest Ginseng from local forest lands will be disappointed this year, as forest officials have announced that there will be no harvesting permits issued for ginseng in 2016 by the Daniel Boone National Forest. There has been a major decline in ginseng populations in recent years, due in part to illegal harvesting according to forest service staff. This has led to the decision not to issue any legal harvesting permits for this year, in hopes that this will help the population bounce back. Field staff with the forest will also continue to monitor ginseng populations and follow through with additional efforts to assist with increasing numbers. Those who may consider violating the law by harvesting ginseng from national forest lands should keep in mind that removing any wild ginseng plant or its parts from the national forest without a permit is considered theft and carries penalties ranging from fines of up to $5,000 to six months in federal prison or both.

Forest officials also remind of other items that may never be taken from the forest including rocks, historic and prehistoric artifacts and the stripping of tree bark. These practices are strictly prohibited in the national forest. Things that can be done with proper permits include plant collecting and collecting of firewood, but again permits should be obtained from the forest service with certain limitations in place. Permits are not required to take certain items from the national forest, including fruits and nuts, pine cones, mushrooms and wood for campfires within the forest. That wood must be dead and used for campfires only while camping in the forest. No standing trees may be cut and no wood is to be taken home or to private land.

For information regarding any of these regulations and restrictions in the national forest, contact the Stearns District office of the Daniel Boone National Forest on Highway 27 just north of Whitley City or call 376-5323.

The McCreary Central Raiders football team, under head coach Lucas Ford, grabbed a win to open their 2016 season Friday at home. The final score was McCreary Central 55, Jenkins 8, as the Raiders open with a 1-0 record on the young season. The Raiders defeated Jenkins last year as well, in one of only two wins recorded by the local team in 2015. The other win came against Berea, where the Raiders were victorious by a score of 47-15. The Raiders will face Berea again this year with a home game on September 16th. Meanwhile, the Raiders next game is this Friday August 26th, as they host Lynn Camp at 7:30pm, followed by a road game September 2nd at Clinton County.

The Lady Raiders volleyball squad split the McCreary Central Invitational this past Saturday with wins over Barbourville, Jellico, Tennessee, and Berea and losses to Clinton County, North Laurel and Whitley County. That brings the volleyball team's season record to 4-5 so far, with home matches on the schedule for Monday 9August 22nd) and Tuesday (August 23rd) hosting Lynn Camp and Southwestern respectively. The Lady Raiders then host East Jessamine on Thursday and will travel to Berea for their invitational tournament this coming Saturday.

The Lady Raiders soccer team is currently 0-1 on the season, with a home match this Thursday against Casey County before taking on Southwestern this Saturday.

In neighboring Scott County, Tennessee, all county schools were placed on lockdown last Wednesday morning for a time as a precautionary measure. School officials said the move was taken because of a robbery the night before of a Kentucky pawn shop where it was reported a number of firearms were stolen. There were also reports that at least one suspect in that robbery may have been headed back into Tennessee. There were no direct threats made against any schools in Scott County, but school officials said they wanted to take the step to ensure safety in all of their schools. The lockdown last a short time Wednesday before officials felt any potential danger had passed.

57 year old Gregory Miller is facing charges after he allegedly broke into a Somerset home, armed with a shotgun. It happened Thursday night in the Canary Drive area, according to police, who say Miller was apprehended after the homeowner was able to grab the shotgun and held the suspect at the scene until police could arrive. Gregory Miller was treated for injuries he suffered in the struggle and is facing charges of burglary and wanton endangerment as the investigation continues by Somerset Police.

Once again this month McCreary County's 2
nd District Magistrate, Roger Phillips, “called out” Judge-Executive Doug Stephens for what he sees as a lack of action by Stephens. Previously, Phillips said many of the jail issues the county is facing stem from a lack of leadership by Stephens and his administration, now Magistrate Phillips has questioned a lack of action on the issue of the county's revolving loan program for local, small businesses. During last week's fiscal court meeting, Phillips pointed out that the court had voted months ago that the county would publish a list of local individuals and businesses who are delinquent in paying back revolving loans, which were made available for business opportunities and potentially to create jobs locally. The court's action was aimed at making sure businesses got on track with paying back the loans to the county. This month, Phillips asked Judge Stephens why the list was not published in the local newspaper in July, as was ordered by the court. He asked why the court bothers voting on issues if Stephens is not going to follow through with the actions. Judge Stephens defended his inaction by saying that he is still working out details of repayment with at least one delinquent individual and wanted to give time to get that matter settled before publishing the list for the public to see. Later in the meeting, the court held an executive session after which they voted to offer a split proposal to a business which would essentially split the loan amount still owed between two individuals rather than putting it on the business entity. Magistrate Phillips further pressed Judge Stephens asking if the list of delinquent loan payments would be published in September, to which Stephens answered “sure.” There has been talk in the past about restructuring the revolving loan program to ensure it operates more smoothly, but no firm action has been taken by the county on that issue to date.

One item that did not appear on the agenda for this month's meeting of the McCreary County Fiscal Court was the hiring of a new tourism director. During their July meeting, the court approved a request from the local tourist commission to advertise for applicants for the part-time tourism director, which was done late last month. That was to be followed by the interview process before being presented to the court for a decision. The McCreary County Tourist Commission will meet this evening (Thursday August 18
th) at 5:00pm at which time it is reported the commission will discuss and possibly vote on a recommendation to send to the court. The tourist commission now meets the third Thursday of each month at their office in downtown Whitley City. The tourism position is a part-time county position, meaning the post is limited to a maximum of 24 hours per week with no benefits like retirement or insurance.

Deer hunters across the state are being encouraged by officials with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife to take part in a survey now through September 9th. The survey deals with issues related to hunting and management of wildlife resources in the state, with officials saying it includes 46 questions on topics like buck and doe harvest, season length, youth and mentor opportunities and more. Results of the survey will help the department work to better hunting seasons and regulations on hunters moving forward. The survey is available now online at www.research.net/r/KYDeerInput2016 and can be completed anytime on or before September 9th.

It is back to school time in McCreary County with local schools back in session for students and staff today (Wednesday August 17th). With the 2016-2017 year getting underway, law enforcement officials are urging motorists to exercise extra caution especially in mornings and afternoons around the time school buses will be running and making stops. Last year, according to the Kentucky State Police, the state had 852 school bus related crashes with 297 injuries and three fatalities reported from those wrecks. Remember to watch for buses, stop when you see the flashing lights and the stop sign from the bus and also watch for kids who may be walking to school or to school bus stops. Passing a school bus while it is loading or unloading is a Class B misdemeanor for first offense and Class A for second offense, and can be dangerous. Citizens can contribute to safety efforts by reporting erratic driving behavior to the Kentucky State Police at 1-800-222-5555 or by downloading the free KSP mobile phone app.

August is also “National Immunization Awareness Month” to highlight the importance of immunizations, especially at back to school time. New enrollees in schools and those entering certain grade levels are also required to have vaccinations and other immunizations before starting school. For information, contact the Kentucky Department for Public Health's Immunization Program at (502-564-4479 or contact the McCreary County Health Department at 376-2412.

It is no secret that McCreary County is facing a crisis when it comes to the transporting and housing of its inmates, with no jail open locally. County Attorney Conley Chaney is at least making an attempt at easing that crisis with a move he addressed with the McCreary County Fiscal Court last week. He said that the Department of Corrections had recently shot down the idea of operating temporary holding cells in the courthouse, sheriff's office or the old jail building. Chaney presented a draft letter to the court which is addressed to Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin requesting that he consider issuing an executive order allowing the county to move forward with those options. Chaney said if allowed, the temporary housing of inmates as they await transport could allow for fewer trips to jails by transport officers, cutting costs, and could help inmates bond out before having to be transported. Chaney noted there is no way of knowing if such a request would be considered or granted, but said it was worth the effort. The court voted to adopt the letter and sign it from fiscal court with each member signing before submitting to Governor Bevin. There was no other action taken regarding the local jail issue during this month's court meeting.

A jury in London, Kentucky ruled last week that a Corbin man is entitled to more than $21 million in his lawsuit against a hospital and its parent company. Kevin Wells had filed the suit claiming that St. Joseph Health System in London, and its parent company Catholic Health Initiatives, had subjected him to unnecessary hear procedures in order to boost their payments and billing from insurance companies. The jury determined the hospital and company to be negligent and that they violated consumer protection rules by performing the procedures that were deemed to be unnecessary. An appeal is said to be likely in the case, according to attorneys.

We reported Monday on a split in the McCreary County Fiscal Court on the issue of making garbage collection “mandatory” with that split putting Magistrates Leroy “O.L.” Perry and Roger Phillips against the move and Magistrates Jason Mann and Duston Baird, and Judge Executive Doug Stephens, giving preliminary approval to the move. There was another issue which apparently caused a split in the court, which was brought to light during last Thursday's court meeting. An item on the agenda listed a telephone poll that was conducted asking court members to authorize borrowing $200,000 from the county's road fund to pay KACo (Kentucky Association of Counties) insurance for the year. Magistrates Roger Phillips and Duston Baird were recorded as “no” votes in the measure, while all other court members approved the request. Judge Stephens noted that this is a move that was also done last fiscal year with the court borrowing $240,000 from the road fund a year ago to pay the insurance payments, which come due near the start of the fiscal year. He said as money trickles into the county through the year, the funds are paid back and the court is required to have all the funds paid back to the fund by June 30th. Stephens said it did take all year last year to pay back the money, with the final payment made in June.

This month's McCreary County Fiscal Court meeting included detailed discussion on improvements being planned for the county park, using funds set aside in a dedicated park fund. The park board approved a list of improvements and quotes from various companies, including two basketball courts to be installed with asphalt surface, goals, fencing and bleachers, plus a sign for the park and other projects. Magistrate Roger Phillips said he wanted to see all items and projects advertised for bids in the hopes of saving money. Park Manager Melissa Vanover and park board members noted that quotes were received from several companies for each item and the park board has selected the ones they felt were best. Phillips said there was nothing to lose by bidding the projects and if a better deal is not found the county can still go back and accept the quotes already received. In the end, the court voted to table the issue until bids can be sought, with hopes of giving final approval to move forward on the projects next month.

A separate project is the effort to bring lighting to ball fields at the county park. Bids were opened for the project with prices ranging from a low end of just over $47,000 to a high end of $92,000. The bids include putting little league standard lighting on one ball field at the park to allow for night games and the possibility of hosting tournaments. The park board and the fiscal court previously allocated up to $50,000 to be used for the project. Concerns were expressed that the three bids may not be comparing the exact same projects with some including everything needed to complete the project and others possibly including some work not completed by the company such as underground lines and other particular phases of the project. The court tabled the issue until the park board and little league board can review the bids and court members can be sure there is a fair comparison of bids.

The staff of the Big South Fork park at the Blue Heron Mining Camp and Interpretive Center will be guiding a hike this Wednesday August 17th starting at 2:30pm. The hike is a “walk through time” which will last about 45 minutes and allow the participant to learn about the coal miner's way of life in the area in the early 1900s. The program is free and open to the public with pets welcome as long as they are well behaved and on a leash. For information or directions to Wednesday's hike at Blue Heron, call the Blue Heron Interpretive Center at 606-376-3787.

The debate and dispute over whether garbage collection service in McCreary County should be “mandatory” has been raging on for years, even decades, locally. It has often been considered an issue that could end a political career for local leaders and even prompted an Attorney General opinion in the 1990s. The current county ordinance on garbage collection lists the service as “universal” but not ”mandatory.” The issue was taken up last Thursday during the regular session of the McCreary County Fiscal Court when Kathy Reed, chairperson for the local 109 Solid Waste Board, addressed the court with recommendations from the board that the county begin the advertising process for a new garbage collection franchise agreement and that the county change its wording to “mandatory” collection for all residents. The current franchise agreement with Scott Solid Waste will expire at the end of December.

In discussion on the issue, it was noted by Andy Powell, Deputy Judge-Executive, that participation in garbage collection is currently under 50%. He added that county ordinance already requires residents to dispose of trash in one of two ways, including having it collected by Scott Solid Waste or delivering it to the transfer station in Stearns. However, he and others admitted that the issue has not, and is not currently, being enforced with much strength. The discussion that continued on the matter included few viable options for actually enforcing “mandatory” garbage collection, even if the county takes that step. All seemed to admit that it would place an extra burden on the county, at least for some time, in trying to crack down on those not participating.

District 1 Magistrate Leroy “O.L.” Perry made his feelings known by saying that many local residents struggle and just cannot afford the monthly cost for garbage disposal. He made a motion that the county advertise for proposals on the franchise agreement, but with no change to the ordinance which currently states that the service is “universal” and not “mandatory.” Magistrate Roger Phillips seconded the motion, but it was voted down by a 3-2 margin when Magistrates Jason Mann and Duston Baird joined Judge Executive Doug Stephens in voting against the motion.

A motion was then made by Jason Mann that the court update the garbage ordinance with wording that the service is to be “mandatory” but with the stipulations that the county seek a reduction in the monthly fee by a company to collection garbage. He proposed a rate of no more than $10 per month, which would be down from the current $15 per month. Mann said if everyone was on service and paying, the company should be able to lower the rate. He also wanted to ensure that a senior citizen discount is included. The motion was seconded by Duston Baird, and approved by the court by a 3-2 margin, with Perry and Phillips voting against the measure.

Before the ordinance is actually changed to read that garbage collection is “mandatory” it must still pass through a first and second reading.

Discussion on the garbage issue also addressed the negative impact trash issues are having on the county, including an economic impact. It was noted that at least one company that recently visited McCreary County with the possibility of locating a business here had opted to locate in a neighboring county and had cited garbage issues as one reason for the decision.

Options discussed for possibly collecting garbage bills from all residents including putting it on property taxes or water bills, but no action was taken in either direction.

With school set to start this Wednesday, August 17th, for students in the McCreary County School District, open house and registration dates will conclude over the next couple of days. Those include Pine Knot Intermediate School for all grades today (Monday August 15th) from 4;00 to 7:00pm and McCreary Academy today from 9:00am to 5:00pm. McCreary Middle School will have registration for 7th grade today and 8th grade tomorrow (Tuesday August 16th) from 4;00 to 7:00pm each day.

McCreary Central High School sports kick off the fall season this week with the Lady Raider volleyball squad opening their season this evening with a home match against Jellico, Tennessee at 5:00pm. That will be followed by a road match at Clinton County Tuesday, a road match at Bell County Thursday and the McCreary Central Invitational Tournament this Saturday August 20th.

The McCreary Central girls' soccer team will open play this Tuesday on the road against Oneida, Tennessee, and the Raider football team begins play this Friday (August 19th) as they host Jenkins at 7:30pm.

Farmers' markets across Kentucky are offering “double dollars” for those using SNAP/EBT benefits when buying eligible food products and fresh produce at the markets. This year, 25 markets received funding for the program which allows the markets to give SNAP recipients twice the product for their purchase. In other words, if a customer selects $10 worth of eligible products and pays using their SNAP benefits, only $5 will be taken off their account. McCreary County's farmers market received “double dollar” funding in 2015 and, utilizing funds remaining in the program, have continued the effort this season. The market is open Saturday mornings starting at 9:00am off Wilburn K Ross Highway in Stearns and also the first and third Thursday of each month from 5:00 to 8:00pm in Jackson Heritage Park in downtown Whitley City. Vendors at the market accept cash payments, as well as credit and debit cards and SNAP/EBT.

Local residents and visitors to the area are invited to attend weekend programs being offered by the staff of the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area. A program called “Bear on the Plateau” will be offered this Saturday August 13th starting at 7:00pm at the Blue Heron campground amphitheater. The area is handicap accessible and the program is free and open to the public. The session will include facts about the American black bear and ways to stay safe in bear country while also helping keep the bear population wild.

A nature hike will be guided Sunday morning August 14th starting at 11:00am in the area around Yahoo Falls, promoted as Kentucky's tallest waterfall at 113 feet. The hike will start from the Yahoo Falls parking area located off Highway 700, west of Whitley City. The trail is a 1.2 mile loop trail that is rated moderate to easy, but does include one set of long stairs. Participants are encouraged to dress for the weather, bring water and wear sturdy, bur comfortable, shoes or hiking boots.

For information or directions for either weekend program on the Kentucky side of the Big South Fork, call the Blue Heron Interpretive Center at 606-376-3787.

This past Tuesday (August 9th) was the deadline for candidates to file to run for local school board seats and for the open seats on the soil and water conservation district. According to the office of McCreary County Clerk Eric Haynes, Nelda Gilreath, the incumbent school board member for division 1 filed to run for re-election unopposed with no other candidates filing for that seat. In division 3, Roxanne Shook, the current school board member, did not file for re-election, but Dustin Stephens and Casey Daugherty both filed for the post. Division 5, where Debbie Gibson is currently serving, will include a race between the incumbent and challengers Kevin Taylor, James Kiser and Belinda Wilson, all of whom filed for the seat. Divisions 2 and 4 on the school board will be up for election again in 2018.

The McCreary County Soil and Water Conservation District finds itself with four seats up for grabs in the November election. However, only three candidates filed to run for a seat at the table including Anthony Trammell, Bradley Coffey, Jr. and Coby Stephens. The could mean a vacant seat on that board, unless a write-in candidate steps into that race.

The deadline for any write-in candidate to file for the November election is October 28th at 4:00pm. Anyone who is not registered to vote and would like to vote in the November election can still do so until October 11th. The fall election includes the local races previously mentioned, along with US Senate and US President.

The next community blood drive in McCreary County will be held next Thursday August 18th from 4:30 to 7:30pm at the Whitley City Fire Department. All eligible donors are encouraged to help save lives by donating blood and will receive a $10 Wal-Mart gift card just for donating. To donate blood you must be at least 17 years of age, or 16 with parental consent, weigh at least 110 pounds and be in generally good health. In addition to the gift card received by all donors, those age 18 and older will also be registered for a drawing to win a 2016 Toyota Tacoma 4x4 truck to be given away later this year. For more information on donating blood, contact the Kentucky Blood Center at 1-800-775-2522 or visit www.kybloodcenter.org.

The organizers of the annual “Yamacraw Run” trail race have announced via Facebook that a new major tourism event is being planned for fall 2017. The “No Business 100” trail run will be held October 14, 2017 covering trails throughout the Big South Fork and Daniel Boone National Forest in McCreary County. The course is a 103.6 mile loop which will also travel south into Pickett State Park in Tennessee before heading back into Kentucky. While registration for the major race will not open until January 1, 2017, those interested can visit
www.nobusiness100.com to find out more about the event, look up course maps and more. The race is being organized by the same people who conduct the annual Yamacraw Run trail race in April of each year, an event which started in 2015 and continued this year.

After announcing his plans to restructure the Medicaid expansion put in place by his predecessor Steve Beshear, Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin has now extended the public comment period on the proposal. The original deadline for comment was July 22nd, but media reports this week indicate that the period has been extended to this Friday August 12th. The proposal by Bevin would have to be submitted to federal Medicaid officials for approval, with the Governor previously indicating that if his plan is not approved it could be a complete scale back of the expanded Medicaid program. Under Governor Steve Beshear the program was extended to include more Kentuckians, including many who work, in some cases full time, but were unable to afford private insurance. Under Governor Bevin's plan, many on Kentucky Medicaid would still have basic coverage but would lose or have to earn back coverage such as dental or vision.

Two Kentucky women learned this week how much time they will spend behind bars for thefts that took place in the Daniel Boone National Forest. US District Judge Danny Reeves handed down the sentence for 22 year old Whitney Maness and 20 year old Mikayla Hudson, with each receiving a 15 month prison sentence. The women admitted their guilt in connection with stealing personal property from almost twenty vehicles that were parked at locations in the national forest between August and September of last year. Once they complete their prison term, both women will be under supervised release for three years, during which time they will be banned from entering any recreation area located in the Daniel Boone National Forest.

Sunday afternoon was anything but clam in the Wal-Mart parking lot in Oneida, Tennessee. Authorities report getting a call to respond to a domestic incident in the parking lot at about 2:40pm Sunday, where they encountered Shannon O'Reagan of Pine Knot. When officers tried to approach the man, they say he pulled a weapon, later identified as an air assault pistol, and allegedly pointed it at police. After officers report telling him to put the gun down, they say he refused to do so and was eventually shot in the abdomen by an officer's assault rifle. O'Reagan was transported to UT Medical Center in Knoxville for treatment of his injuries and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation took over investigations in the case. The Oneida City Police officer involved in the shooting was reportedly placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation. The incident reportedly began with a dispute between Shannon O'Reagan and his wife with the couple's three year old child also on the scene.

Williamsburg Police recently stepped in after a couple allegedly stole playground equipment from the Soggy Bottoms Day Care in Whitley County. The police department purchased and donated new playground equipment to the facility to replace the stolen items. Now, Williamsburg Police say they have arrested a couple in connection with the theft. Arthur Hill and Amanda Rogers were charged and are now lodged in the Whitley County Detention Center. Video surveillance footage helped police identify and locate the suspects.

The office of Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin announced Friday that 33 counties in Kentucky, considered coal counties, will be receiving state refund checks from mining permit and acreage fees collected. A total of $179,900 will be returned to the counties with the refund amounts ranging from $62,50 to $39,947.92. That high amount will be going to Pike County in far eastern Kentucky, while the $62,50 refund check will be received by Pulaski County. McCreary County is also included on the list to receive a refund in the amount of $250.00. Neighboring Whitley County will receive just over $9,000 and Laurel County will get $375. The Kentucky Department for Natural Resources collects the mine permit and acreage fees and then returns a portion of the fees to coal-producing counties to be used for projects as selected by the local fiscal court.

The McCreary County School Board has given their nod of approval to a grant application that could allow for welding bays at McCreary Central High School to be expanded. The McCreary County Voice reported on the project this past week and reports that plans include partnering with KCTCS to allow high school students to train and get work ready certified in welding during the day and to potentially take part in community and technical college programs, such as culinary arts, in the evening. Adults attending KCTCS would also benefit by being able to take welding vocational classes and receive certification in the evenings at the high school's facilities. The grant is part of a state initiative called “Kentucky Work Ready Skills” which has a budget of $100 million to conduct similar programs across the state. Sharon Privett, Principal at McCreary Central, and Dr Jason Creekmore addressed the school board recently about the opportunity and received approval from the local board to pursue the grant. It was estimated that as many as 72 course graduates could be seen within one year of the program being in place.

With school set to start in just over a week in McCreary County, the local school district is currently seeking applicants for a number of open positions ranging from teacher to coach to counselor to cook. According to job postings on the school district website as of August 3rd, positions available include coaching positions for boy's and girl's basketball at Pine Knot Intermediate, Director of Pupil Personnel at the Central Office, cook at schools districtwide, Guidance Counselor at McCreary Central High School, teachers at Pine Knot Primary and McCreary Preschool, English teacher at McCreary Central, Math teacher at McCreary Central and more. Those interested in applying for any of the open posts, or finding out more information, should visit the McCreary County School District website at www.mccreary.k12.ky.us and then click on the “Employment” tab.

While little has been done to promote this year's event, next Friday August 12th is listed as the registration deadline for the annual “Kathy Brannon Craft Days” which are set for Friday September 9th and Saturday September 10th. Kathy Brannon was a long time extension agent in McCreary County who lost her battle with cancer several years ago. The annual craft class event has been held in honor of Kathy for a number of years and offers classes ranging from ceramics, shaker tape, basket weaving and crocheting, to bird feeder building, woodworking and painting. The classes each carry a small fee to help cover materials and will be held on a schedule throughout the two day event at the McCreary Center Campus of Somerset Community College. The event is sponsored by the McCreary County Extension Office, which can be contacted for details, complete schedule of classes and events and to register. Call the office at 606-376-2524 or stop by in the McCreary Center in room 128. Refreshments and lunch will be available each day of the Kathy Brannon Craft Days, which again will be Friday September 9th and Saturday September 10th. Registration should be completed by next Friday August 12th.

The Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area staff will offer a free program on “fascinating snakes of the Big South Fork” this Saturday August 6th. The program will be a 45 minute program led by Park Ranger Raymond Little starting at 7:00pm at the Blue Heron Campground, on Highway 742 west of Stearns, Kentucky. The program will include topics like identifying common snakes in the region, their role in the region and more. The program will be held at the campground campfire circle, which is handicap accessible. The program is free and open to the public. For additional information call the Blue Heron Interpretive Center at 606-376-3787.

McCreary Central High School is continuing its open house and registration schedule ahead of the start of the new school year. Juniors will register today (Thursday August 4th) from 3:30 to 5:30pm, followed by sophomores registering this evening from 6:00-7:30pm. Freshmen can attend a special orientation session Friday morning, followed by registration from 1:30 to 5:30pm at the high school. Make up day for all grades and registration for new enrollees will be Monday August 8th from 4:00-6:00pm. Opening day for students in the McCreary County School District will be Wednesday August 17th.

The deadline for candidates to file to run for school board and conservation district seats this fall is coming up this Tuesday August 9th. The boards are non-partisan, meaning there is no primary, with all candidates filing facing off in the November election. School board seats on the ballot will include District 1, currently held by Nelda Gilreath, District 3 held by Roxanne Shook and District 5 held by Debbie Gibson. Candidates must live in the district and have two witness signatures, along with the filing fee, to run for an open seat. The deadline to file is 4:00pm next Tuesday August 9th. To file to run or get more information contact the McCreary County Clerk's Office at the courthouse by stopping by or calling 376-2411.

The McCreary County Farmers' Market continues its effort to bring together local growers and food producers with consumers looking for local produce and other items. The market is open each Saturday morning off Wilburn K Ross Highway in Stearns and is also open the first and third Thursday of each month, including this evening (Thursday August 4th), from 5:00-8:00pm. The Thursday evening markets are held in Jackson Heritage Park in downtown Whitley City. The local market accepts cash, credit and debit cards and SNAP/EBT for payments.

Kentucky State Police are investigating a fatal crash that they say happened on Interstate 75 in Whitley County. The northbound lanes of I-75 were closed for a time Monday as the crash scene was cleared and investigated. Mary Rose Wilson was pronounced dead following the crash at the 26 mile marker. Full details of the crash remain under investigation.

Yet another neighbor of McCreary County may soon offer the sale of alcoholic beverages. The city of Monticello will have a special wet/dry referendum vote on Tuesday September 27th. A petition was filed with the Wayne County Clerk's office last week and was certified with enough signatures to call for the vote, which was scheduled by Wayne County Judge-Executive Mike Anderson. The precincts that are part of the incorporated city of Monticello will be eligible to vote in the special election to determine whether alcohol sales will be permitted.

With the new school year set to start in exactly two weeks for students in McCreary County, schools are already getting registration dates underway. McCreary Central High School will begin its registration today (Wednesday August 3rd) with seniors from 3:30 to 5:30pm. On Thursday, August 4th, juniors will register from 3:30 to 5:30pm, followed by sophomores from 6:00-7:30pm. Freshmen will be able to attend a special orientation session Friday morning until noon, and then register Friday afternoon from 1:30 to 5:30pm at the high school. Make up day and registration for new enrollees will be Monday August 8th from 4:00-6:00pm. Opening day for staff in McCreary County is Tuesday August 16th with opening day for students Wednesday August 17th.

The McCreary County Hunter Education program will be offering another free hunter education class this coming weekend. The class, for those age 9 and older, begins Thursday August 4th and Friday August 5th at 6:00pm and Saturday August 6th at 9:00am at the Whitley City Fire Department. To complete the course and receive your orange card for hunting you must attend all three sessions of the class. The course is free, but you must preregister online by going to fw.ky.gov. For additional information call 376-3933 or 606-310-9231.

A missing 16 year old girl from Whitley County was found dead at a home in the Bee Rock area of the county late Friday night. This came after the girl's foster parents reported her missing earlier in the day. While Kayly Lockaby's body was being recovered from the scene, 21 year old Skyler Barnett was being handcuffed, according to the Whitley County Sheriff's Department, on charges including unlawful transaction with a minor, possession of heroin, and possession of drug paraphernalia. Authorities say they are still working to find out exactly what caused the teen's death, but have said that additional charges in connection with her death could be forthcoming. An autopsy was planned.

An e-mail from Highland Telephone Cooperative to its customers this past weekend reminds people to be careful and use caution when giving out any personal or account information, and when allowing access to your computer and other devices. A scam has been reported in which a caller contacts a customer claiming to be from “tech support” saying that the customer has a virus on their computer. The caller then requests access to the computer remotely. Keep in mind, this is scam and you should not give information, including passwords, to anyone unless you have initiated the request.

State officials have released the most recent unemployment data for Kentucky which shows that McCreary County's jobless rate inched up from 7.4% in May to 8% in June of this year. That was down slightly from the county's June 2015 rate of 8.3%. Overall, unemployment rates were down in 64 out of 120 Kentucky counties from the month of June last year to the same 30 day period this year. The rates were up in 49 counties and remained the same in seven counties. The state's lowest jobless rate in June was found in Woodford County, which seems to consistently have low unemployment, at 3.6%. The state's highest rate was in Magoffin County at 16.8%. Kentucky's statewide jobless rate was 5.4% in June, up from May's 5% and down slightly from 5.5% in June 2015. The US unemployment rate was recorded at 5.1% in June. For more information on the labor market and unemployment rates in Kentucky, visit

It is almost back to school time again in McCreary County and we all know that many families struggle to provide all the school supplies needed by students. The McCreary County Public Library is again trying to help with this struggle by hosting the “Stuff the Bus” school supply drive all this month. Anyone with fines on their account for overdue library materials can bring in school supply donations to have those fines excused from their account. Even if you do not have a fine on your account, your donation will still help local students this school year. The donations will be distributed to the schools through their family resource centers. School supply donations can be dropped off at the McCreary County Public Library anytime during the month of August.

There have been rumors and talks for months about the possibility of a new coal mining operation that could open in McCreary County, creating new jobs. Now, a company calling itself Stearns Energy confirmed last week that a mine will be opening locally in the coming months. Robert Crowder, co-owner of the company, said in the announcement that they already have an order for up to 100,000 tons of coal to be purchased each month. He said the company will start by mining between 30,000-40,000 tons per month next spring and should be up to the maximum 100,000 tons by next fall. He added that plans include mining 24 hours a day once the operation is in full swing. The company says once in full operation between 80 to 100 jobs could be created from the company, with Crowder saying that as many locals as possible will be hired. He said a website and an announcement on hiring would be forthcoming in the next few months.

The McCreary County Grand Jury, meeting for their regular July session, returned an indictment against 46 year old Anthony Murphy in connection with his own son's murder. Police discovered the remains of 26 year old Charles Murphy in an area off Day Ridge Road in northern McCreary County in March. That came after a missing persons report was filed for Murphy last year. Anthony Murphy was indicted on the charge of murder with police saying they believe he shot his son and attempted to dispose of the body in May of last year. Murphy is currently lodged in the Laurel County Detention Center, although that is said to be on unrelated drug charges. His arrest came after a shootout incident with police last December. Listeners are reminded that an indictment by the grand jury is a formal charge in a case, but is not a finding of guilt.

The Whitley County Sheriff's Department reports that a 13 year old girl has been charged in connection with the physical assault of her own great grandmother. Investigators say officers were called to the scene in the Goldbug community last Wednesday night and say the incident stemmed from an argument between the girl and her grandmother over the use of an electronic device. The elderly lady was transported to Baptist Health in Corbin but was later transferred to UK Medical Center in Lexington for treatment. She reportedly had visible signs of her injuries. The juvenile suspect was taken into custody and charged with second degree assault. She was reportedly lodged in a juvenile detention center in Breathitt County and the investigation is continuing.

Authorities say a Friday night crash on Interstate 75 in Whitley County forced the closure of the highway for several hours. It happened near mile marker 19 when a tractor trailer and a truck pulling a trailer apparently collided. Police say there were no reported fatalities but there were injuries from the accident, but could not elaborate on the extent of the injuries. Southbound traffic was detoured using exit 25 with the interstate close until about 2:00am Saturday morning.

A father and son in Pulaski County appeared in court this week where they were both sentenced for their respective roles in a 2015 murder. Rexal Brown, the father, entered a guilty plea previously to the charge of manslaughter and was sentenced this week to serve 15 years in prison. His son, Jesse Brown, admitted to possession of a handgun by a convicted felon and was sentenced to 10 years behind bars. The case stems from the murder of 34 year old Danny Poore who was shot to death and found in a cabin last October.

It has been an historic week in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, a city that is no stranger to historic events. The 2016 Democratic National Convention officially closed last night after four days of rallies, speeches, entertainment and a political party sharing its vision for America's future. The historic week included speeches by America's first African-American First Lady, Michelle Obama, the first African-American President, Barack Obama, and the first woman to be nominated to lead the ticket for President for a major political party, Hillary Clinton. The former First Lady, US Senator and Secretary of State was officially nominated Tuesday night, with former political opponent Bernie Sanders making the motion to formally approve the nomination. Clinton faces Republican Donald Trump, along with several third party challengers, in the November election for President of the United States.

Officials with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet's District 8 say resurfacing of a large section of US Highway 27 in Pulaski County will begin this Sunday July 31st. Crews will be resurfacing Highway 27 from mile point 14.1 or traffic light 16A to mile point 10.1 at the Pitman Creek bridge for both the northbound and southbound lanes. The project will continue for the next several weeks and should be completed by the end of September. Those traveling through the area in Somerset should watch for work crews, slow down and expect delays or stopped traffic during the project work period.

The staff of the Big South Fork National River and Recreation is offering weekend programs in McCreary County, on the Kentucky side of the park. This Saturday, July 30th, a program on the animals of the Big South Fork will be held at Blue Heron Campground on Highway 742 west of Stearns beginning at 7:00pm. The program is free to attend and the campground is handicap accessible. A Yahoo Falls nature hike will be held this Sunday July 31st starting at 11:00am from the Yahoo Falls parking area, off Highway 700 west of Whitley City. The hike includes a loop trail of 1.2 miles rated easy to moderate. Participants are reminded to dress appropriately for the weather and bring water. For information or directions for either program, call the Blue Heron Interpretive Center at 606-376-3787.

A woman has been arrested and charged after she allegedly fled the scene of a fatal collision in Whitley County Monday evening. Police say it happened on Highway 895 in the Williamsburg area when a woman walking along the road was struck by a passing car. That woman died from her injuries, while her husband who was walking with her was sent to the hospital for treatment. The driver of the car left the scene, but returned later at which time she was arrested. Police say the woman admitted to taking a shot of moonshine, as well as a number of prescription drugs before the incident. Sonia Askins was lodged in the Whitley County Detention Center as the investigation into the fatality continues.

As we previously reported, the McCreary County Fiscal Court has approved advertising, interviewing and hiring a new part time tourism director for the county. The first advertisement for the position appeared last week in The McCreary County Voice newspaper and lists next Thursday August 4th at 4:00pm as the deadline to apply. While specific details including salary are not mentioned in the public notice, the court approved hiring the director on a part time basis, meaning they would be limited to a maximum of 24 hours per week. The court also specified that the salary should not exceed the amount paid to the previous part time director, which was $13.22 per hour or a maximum of just over $16,000 for the year. In addition, as a part time employee, benefits such as insurance and retirement are not provided. Applicants interested should contact the McCreary County Judge-Executive's Office in person or by calling 376-2413. It is expected that interviews will be conducted between August 4th and August 11th, the date of the next fiscal court meeting when a new director may be hired.

A new short film said to capture the rugged beauty and unique history of the area in and around the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area is set to be released this year. The park will host a film premiere in Stearns this September as part of the major event. Big South Fork Superintendent Niki Nicholas says that the film, called Generations, will give locals and visitors “...a glimpse of the park like it's never been seen before.” The premiere for the Kentucky side of the park is scheduled for Saturday September 10th starting at 4:30pm at the McCreary Central High School auditorium. That event will be followed that evening by the annual “Ghost Train” leaving the train depot in Stearns at 7:00pm and traveling to the Blue Heron Interpretive Center for guided tours by lantern and stories.

For information on the special events in September hosted by the Big South Fork, call the park service at 423-569-9778 or Blue Heron at 376-3787. For information on riding the Big South Fork Scenic Railway, call 1-800-462-5664 or visit www.bsfsry.com.

With school starting in a few short weeks in McCreary County, the fall sports teams at McCreary Central High School are already gearing up for the 2016 season with practices underway.

The Raider football squad is currently conducting summer practices daily from 4:30-6:30pm with a passing tournament scheduled at South Laurel High School this weekend and camp days planned for next Monday and Wednesday, August 1st and 3rd, from 9:00am to 2:00pm each day. A scrimmage is scheduled against Perry Central on August 11th and the first regular season game is slated for Friday August 19th at home against Jenkins at 7:30pm. The schedule continues for the Raiders on August 26th as they host Lynn Camp, followed by road games at Clinton County September 2nd and at Providence, Indiana September 9th. Other home games this season include Berea on September 16th, Pineville on September 30th, Fort Knox on October 7th and Harlan on October 28th. The Raiders are led this year by new head coach Lucas Ford.

The Lady Raiders volleyball team, coached this year by Wade Davis, will open the 2016 season on August 15th with a home match against Jellico, followed by a home match August 16th against Clinton County. The squad will hit the road as they travel to Bell County on August 18th. A McCreary Central Invitational Volley ball Tournament is scheduled for Saturday August 20th.

To date, the only matches on the schedule reported by the Kentucky High School Athletics Association for the Lady Raider soccer team are a road game on August 29th at Knox Central, home match against Whitley County on September 1st and a road match at Whitley County on October 6th. The soccer squad is coached by Jennifer Stogsdill this year.

The date has been set for the 4th annual “Pooh Ride” to honor fallen firefighter Arlie “Pooh” Hill. The ride will be held Saturday September 10th with registration starting at 10:00am at the Whitley City Fire Department and kick stands up at 11:00am. The destination of the ride is the Firefighter Memorial in Frankfort and the registration fee is $20 for the rider and $10 for passenger. Proceeds from the ride will go to the Supporting Heroes program.

Arlie “Pooh” Hill was born in 1975 and was a 1994 graduate of McCreary Central High School. He was serving as a lieutenant in the Whitley City Fire Department when he suffered severe burns in a house fire in August 2013. After weeks in critical condition in the hospital, Hill died from those injuries on October 27, 2013. The annual motorcycle ride is held each year to honor his service and memory and to raise awareness and money for Supporting Heroes.

After first being introduced to the world in the 1960s, the VCR, Video Cassette Recorder, is officially making its exit from the world stage. Reports indicate that Japan's Funai Electric Company, which claims to be the last company manufacturing the VCR, will produce its last model for the consumer this month. The company says the step is being taken because of reduced demand and the rising cost of obtaining the parts needed to produce the machines. VCRs have been replaced over recent years by DVDs, Blu-Ray and digital technologies.

An Ohio man died this past weekend during an outing on a boat on Lake Cumberland in Wayne County. Authorities say 27 year old Travis Hamilton fell into the water between two boats at about 1:30am Saturday and did not resurface. A search began for the man which ended with the location of his lifeless body at about 6:30am. The Wayne County Coroner's Office pronounced Hamilton dead at the scene.

The Whitley County Sheriff's Department reports that 53 year old Bryan Karr has been charged with attempted murder, resisting arrest, and two counts of wanton endangerment following a shooting incident. It happened on Perkins Street in the Woodbine area where Karr allegedly pointed the gun at officers, then at himself, and finally at his alleged victim. That person reportedly tried to grab the gun away from the man when it discharged. The victim suffered non-life threatening injuries, and two others, including one minor, were uninjured inside the home. Karr was arrested at the scene and lodged in the Whitley County Detention Center as the investigation continues.

Each year, the state of Tennessee hosts a tax free weekend to allow parents, guardians and students the chance to pay no sales taxes on school supplies and clothes as they prepare for the new school year. This year, the state's legislature voted to move the weekend to the last weekend in July, rather than the first weekend in August which has been the traditional time for the event. The tax free weekend will be Friday July 29th through Sunday July 31st and will allow for certain items purchased in Tennessee to be free of sales tax. Items eligible include clothing costing $100 or less per item, including shirts, pants, jackets, socks and dresses. School and art supplies of $100 or less per item are also included, such as binders, books, backpacks, crayons, paper, pens and rulers. In addition, computers with a purchase price of $1500 or less are also eligible for the tax free weekend. Some restrictions and limitations apply on certain items. For the complete list of eligible items and other details of Tennessee's sales tax free weekend visit the website www.tntaxholiday.com.

The McCreary County Emergency Management Service (EMS) has now taken possession of their newest ambulance, putting the new truck in its fleet and in service locally late last week. The announcement came via the McCreary Ambulance Serv ice Facebook page on Thursday and notes that this is the first 4x4 ambulance ever utilized by the county's service. That is certain to be useful in bad weather, such as this winter, as well as for areas of the county that are not easily accessible. The service is currently adding at least one newly refurbished ambulance to its fleet each year, using grant funds and a dedicated ambulance fund set aside by county leaders. That fund receives a monthly $5,000 deposit from revenue received through EMS collections and that money is earmarked specifically for new ambulances.

Have you ever wondered what it takes to become a trustee on the board of one of the local volunteer fire departments? West McCreary Fire Department is currently seeking a trustee to fill one of their spots and will have an election for the post next month. Anyone interested in serving in the volunteer position that lives in the West McCreary Fire District must register with the McCreary County Clerk's Office. Then, an election for trustee will be held at the fire house Saturday August 20th from 10:00am to 2:00pm. For information on openings of trustee seats with other local volunteer fire departments, contact your local department or fire chief.

The Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area has put the word out that they are seeking help in making the 24th annual “Haunting in the Hills” storytelling festival happen this year. Volunteers are being sought for the event which will be held Saturday September 17th at and around the Bandy Creek Visitor Center, on the Tennessee side of the park. Volunteers are needed to help at the visitor center, to interact with the visiting public, and provide information on area attractions as well as events at the festival. Training will be provided and you can enjoy the day's events while helping make it happen. In addition to storytelling throughout the day and evening, the festival includes crafts, old time displays and demonstrations, music and more. For information on volunteering for the event this year, call the Bandy Creek Visitor Center at 423-286-7275 or park headquarters at 423-569-9778.

Former McCreary Central Lady Raider basketball coach Toby Curry was found guilty this week in the case against him which alleged he used his cell phone to send messages to an underage girl which were aimed at soliciting her for sex. The McCreary County Voice reports this week on the trial which was held Monday and included testimony from the alleged victim's family, investigators, and former co-workers of Curry. In the end, the jury determined that Curry was guilty of the act, which is a Class D felony and could carry with it a prison sentence of between one and five years. The defense argued for a light sentence, while the prosecution is seeking a stiff penalty to act as an example and to deter others who may want to commit the same or similar offense. Official sentencing will be August 22nd.

McCreary County resident, US Army veteran and representative from the local VFW Post, LTC Sherrill Owens addressed the McCreary County Fiscal Court during their session last week and called on county leaders to do more to recognize and honor the service of Wilburn K Ross. Owens said that while signs appear at some of the county entrances recognizes McCreary County as the native home of Ross, he feels more could be done to honor the Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, such as a monument or statue on the courthouse lawn or larger signs with the county welcome signs. He noted that at least one of the county entrance signs recognizing Ross had been taken down at some point and has yet to be replaced. Judge-Executive Doug Stephens said the sign in question was near the McCreary-Whitley County line, saying that plans include replacing the sign once the new Highway 92 construction is completed.

Wilburn Kirby Ross was born near the Bear Creek area of western McCreary County on May 12, 1922, working in local coal mines starting at the age of 18. Soon after he enlisted in the United States Army and found himself serving in Europe during World War II, serving with Company G, 30th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division. On October 30, 1944, Ross found himself near St. Jacques, France manning a machine gun, fighting off repeated German assaults even after his supporting riflemen had run out of ammunition. 55 out of 88 men from his company were lost during the fighting, but Ross continued to hold off German attacks and held his position for a total of 36 hours. PVT Ross was credited with killing 40 enemy soldiers and wounding many others, saving the lives of many of his own fellow American and Allied forces. This stand in the face of the enemy and the threat of death resulted in Wilburn Ross being awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor and being widely recognized for his service. Ross continued in the Army, achieving the rank of Master Sergeant before retiring. Wilburn K Ross is now 94 years old and currently lives in DuPont, Washington, where a community park was named for him and a memorial erected to continue honoring Ross.

Kentucky State Police are reporting that a fatal traffic crash occurred early Tuesday morning in McCreary County. It happened at about 1:30am on US Highway 27 in Whitley City where a 2003 Chevrolet minivan rear-ended a 2013 moped. The van was being driven by 29 year old Tracey Byler of Monticello, while the moped was being operated by 46 year old David Jackson of Stearns. Jackson, who was not wearing a helmet, was transported to UK Medical Center in Lexington where he later died from his injuries. Neither alcohol nor drugs are suspected as factors in the crash, according to Kentucky State Police as the investigation continues.

With temperatures soaring well into the 90s this week and through the weekend, McCreary County Emergency Management Director Rudy Young is urging extreme caution. Remember to stay out of the heat and direct sunlight whenever possible. Stay inside in the air conditioning when possible and if you do have to be outdoors, stay in the shade when possible and take plenty of breaks from any strenuous activity. It is also important to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water during times of extreme heat and avoid alcoholic beverages, which can actually have a dehydrating effect. You are also reminded to make sure outdoor pets have a shaded area and plenty of water available, and to check on neighbors or relatives, especially those with children or the elderly and those without air conditioning.

While it is hard to imagine people taking advantage of the recent shootings of police officers in our country, Somerset Police are warning residents that scam artists are apparently doing just that. The warning was issued this week with the department saying that residents are getting phone calls from people saying they are with the “American Police Academy' and that they are collecting money for the families of slain police officers. Somerset Police say they are not aware of the existence of such an organization and say to be very caution when giving any personal information to anyone over the phone, if you have not initiated the call. You are also reminded that it is always a bad idea to give out account information to anyone on the phone.

The staff of the McCreary County Clerk's office is preparing for the annual delinquent property tax bill sale, which will be August 25
th starting at 10:00am at the courthouse. Each year, the tax bill sale is held to sell tax bills of delinquent property taxpayers to a third party, which puts a lien on the property which must be cleared before that land can be transferred, sold or refinanced. A list of all delinquent tax bills in the county will be published in the July 21st issue of The McCreary County Voice newspaper, and is also available for inspection online by visiting the McCreary County Clerk's website at www.mccrearycountyclerk.com. Tax payments can still be made up to the date of the tax bill sale at the McCreary County Clerk's office. Those interested in registering to purchase tax bills must register at the clerk's office by close of business on August 15th. Additional information is available on the clerk's website or by calling 376-2411.

During the regular July meeting last week, the McCreary County Fiscal Court was asked to approve a contract for employment to be used by the sheriff's department. Specifically, the contract would impact the three deputy sheriffs employed by the county and provided for the sheriff's department. Deputies hired for one of the posts that have not already been academy trained, are required to complete the 22 week training session. The contract would state that the officer is technically employed by the county for those 22 weeks and that the county will pay their salary and benefits for that period. This is due to the requirement of the academy that officers be employed by a legitimate law enforcement agencies before being accepted into the training. In addition, the contract requires the employee to commit to working for the local sheriff's department for a period of time after training. This is meant to keep officers from getting their training and then leaving soon after to go to another department. The exact amount of time the employee would have to commit to was left blank on the contract to be approved by the county, with Sheriff Randy Waters noting that he is not able to offer employment to deputies beyond his term, which will end in just over two years. Therefore, he said any deputy signing the contract from now until the end of his current term would commit to serving for the rest of the term. The court approved the contract, after assurance from Sheriff Waters that he makes every effort to hire already trained deputies before hiring those that will require the 22 week session.

For the second consecutive year, McCreary County has partnered with Gracie's Rescue Outreach, a local animal rescue and assistance program, to apply for a state grant. Last year, the county received $660 in grant funds to pass along to the group for local spay and neuter efforts. The county's application this year is seeking $1,000 in funding for the same types of projects. County leaders said a match is required for the grant, but noted that Gracie's Rescue Outreach has committed to providing the match so there should be no funding required from county coffers. The court approved a resolution supporting the grant application.

When McCreary County first looked at adding an occupational tax back in 2004, county leaders were given estimates for collections in the $600,000-$800,000 range per year. Soon after the tax was adopted, county leaders became hopeful that at some point the tax collections could actually bring in as much as $1 million annually. Now, the news is out that the most recent year of collections from the tax actually came in at more than $1.1 million.
The McCreary County Voice reports that the final collection report from the county for fiscal year 2015-2016 came in at $1,131,531.38 for the twelve month period from July 1, 2015 through June 30, 2016. The budget for the year estimated collections at $1,000,000, meaning the county came out more than $100,000 better than was projected. The county's budget for the new fiscal year that started July 1st still lists $1,000,000 as the projected collection amount. One thing that may get some credit for higher collection totals is an increased effort by tax administrator Stephanie Tucker and the sheriff's department and county attorney's office to issue letters and court summons for those not paying the tax.

After a recommendation was made last week by the McCreary County Park Board to allocate up to $50,000 for lighting on baseball fields at the county park, McCreary County Fiscal Court officially took up the issue Thursday night during their monthly meeting. The court voted to approve the request and to advertise for bids on the project, which will put Little League standard lighting on at least one field at the park, allowing for night games as well as the possibility of hosting tournaments. It was noted that a group from McCreary County had to travel to Harlan County several consecutive nights this year for tournament games. Little League representatives said it would nice to offer tournaments locally and that it could also help the local economy through visitors eating at restaurants and spending other money locally. The funding for the lighting is coming from the dedicated park fund which contained more than $200,000 set aside for possible litigation involving park development. Since that matter was settled, the funds were earmarked for park improvements. Already approved are projects like the installation of splash pads, improvements at Sandhill Camp and now field lighting. Other projects being discussed include outdoor basketball courts and improvements to trails at the park. The park board, which makes recommendations to fiscal court for the park, meets the first Monday of each month at 5:30pm at the park building.

Meeting in regular session last week, the McCreary County Fiscal Court was addressed by members of the county's tourist commission. The commission requested that the county approve advertising, interviewing and hiring a part time tourism director to fill the post which has been vacant for the past two and a half months. In discussion on the issue, Magistrate Roger Phillips asked if the salary for the position would remain at the level it was, to which commission members said they would like to be able to make a recommendation on that depending on who is selected and their qualifications. Phillips said that was fine with him, as long as the amount does not exceed the original salary. Meaning that the county would agree to pay a part time tourism director at the same, or possibly, lower level than the previous director. The salary currently on the books is $13.22 per hour for up to a maximum of 24 hours per week, meaning the maximum gross salary possible for the year would be about $16,000. The court voted to move ahead with advertising the position, which the Judge-Executive's office will do for at least two weeks, followed by interviews to be conducted by the tourist commission with representation from fiscal court. County leaders said they hope to be able to act on hiring a director at the August court meeting.

While many residents of McCreary County probably did not think much about the local airport for decades, the facility has been in the spotlight over the last year. That has included a proposal to impose a tax to support the airport, which was shot down and resulted in the airport board being replaced by fiscal court with a new advisory board. This also included the court taking over the financial management of the McCreary County Airport. Now, the airport enters into a new era with approval last week by county leaders of a proposal to offer Aerospace education at the local facility. Dr. Tim Smith addressed the court and said his plan would be to utilize the airport in Pine Knot to offer Aerospace educational opportunities to local middle and high school students. While he acknowledged it was too late to get the school system involved, at least for this year, he said he wanted to move ahead with offering after school and weekend sessions for students. He added that JC Egnew had offered a contribution of $75,000 through Outdoor Venture Corporation to fund the effort. Smith said all he needed to move forward was approval from fiscal court to allow use of the airport and to be the fiscal agent for money to pass through. He said the proposal would require no money from the county.

Judge-Executive Doug Stephens noted that the airport has been declassified by the FAA because it has fewer than ten aircraft housed there, but said with this new program and some assistance from Us Congressman Hal Rogers and others, he felt enough aircraft could be brought to the facility for it to be classified once again. That, according to Stephens, would open the airport up to again receiving federal funding and other grant opportunities.

Dr. Smith said he wanted to start with between 12-15 students involved in the program this year and grow in the future. Plans would include locating a mobile classroom and other lab areas at the airport for students and eventually would include students helping manage the airport and its flight operations. He also noted the possibility of using the airport for other projects ranging from economic and business development to recreation and tourism.

Some airport board members present questioned whether the board and the county would still control the airport or if the proposal would include leasing out the facility and its management to Smith and his program. He answered that his program would only be utilizing the airport and its facilities, but that decisions and management would still rest with the county, which would still own the airport. In addition, he said an advisory council would be formed to shape the creation and future of the program, with that group including various members of the community.

The McCreary County Fiscal Court voted to approve the proposal and allow Smith to move forward with setting up the program. Recruitment of students to take part in the inaugural year of the program should begin sometime after the start of the new school year.

Another issue raised later in the Fiscal Court meeting concerning the airport was management of the airport's bank accounts. Magistrate Roger Phillips noted that several checks made to the airport had not been deposited and several outstanding bills had yet to be paid. The county took over financial management of the airport back in February, but Judge Stephens said the county had yet to complete the paperwork at the bank to be able to make deposits or sign checks. It was noted a vote by the court was needed with court minutes to be presented at the bank to complete that step. Magistrate Phillips questioned why this had not been done after five months and Judge Stephens said he takes responsibility for the lack of action, but had no further explanation for the delay. The court voted to take the action necessary to finalize the paperwork, take charge of the airport accounts, and pay the bills due.

Each month, the McCreary County Fiscal Court votes to approve payment of the county's bills. Magistrates say they vote each month to pay the bills and are told by Judge-Executive Doug Stephens that money is in the accounts to pay them, but say they really have no clue what bills are actually getting paid. The issue was raised Thursday night as the court met in regular session and after Jailer/Chief Transport Officer Jesse Hatfield made the claim that the county is behind in paying its bills to other jails for inmate housing. When asked later in the meeting to approve paying the bills, a motion by Jason Mann was met with silence as it seemed no magistrate wanted to second the motion. Discussion then included questions about whether there is actually money to pay the bills. Magistrate Roger Phillips responded to citizen comments on the matter by saying that he and other magistrates are told by Stephens the bills are being paid and that they have no choice but to take the Judge at his word until they have reason to believe he is not being straight forward, which he added seems to be the case currently. Stephens was asked if the county can pay all bills if approved, to which he said not all bills could be paid right away, but the county would pay what they can and will pay the rest when they can. He added that money trickles in throughout the year, making it hard to pay all bills immediately. In the end, the court did vote to pay the bills by a 3-1 vote, with Magistrate Roger Phillips voting “nea”. Magistrate OL Perry had left the meeting prior to this vote due to a family medical emergency.

As promised, McCreary County Judge-Executive Doug Stephens presented his proposal for dealing with the county's jail and inmate housing crisis during Thursday evening's session of the McCreary County Fiscal Court, and the options were met concerns from magistrates and citizens. Stephens said he feels like there is no way to reopen the old jail because it would cost too much to bring the building up to modern structural standards. One estimate from a fire marshall put at between $2-$3 million, but Stephens said a structural engineer would likely find even more that needs done, meaning the estimate could double, just to reopen the old jail building. He proposed looking at building a new jail at an estimated cost of between $8-$10 million, but that option would require imposing more tax burden on local residents and also depends heavily on uncertain hopes of getting state inmates to house. KACo, Kentucky Association of Counties, estimated the county's annual payment for such a finance project at more than $500,000. In addition, Judge Stephens said based on current requirements of the state, staffing costs could be about $700,000-$750,000 annually, plus about that same amount for other jail operating costs for a new facility. In total, the annual cost for a new jail including debt service for the building, staff and other operational expenses would be nearly $2 million.

Stephens said the county needs to look at an option that will generate at least another $1 million in annual revenue for the county, plus the revenue that could be generated by housing state inmates, although the state has warned the county not to count on that type of funding. Judge Stephens said his recommendation would be to impose an insurance premium tax in McCreary County, which he said would be on new policies only and, at 7%, would bring in about $1 million according to estimates from the state Department of Insurance.

The Judge said the decision would have to take into consideration whether the community as a whole wants a new jail and the tax that goes along with it and also the fact that such a tax could not go into effect until July of next year. Magistrate Roger Phillips questioned Stephens' numbers, saying Wayne County, with a slightly higher population, only brings in about $742,000 annually from their insurance tax, adding that it includes all policies, not just new policies. Phillips advocated for investing in refurbishing the existing jail, which he said he thought could be done for about $2 million and could be paid for by refinancing all existing debts of the county, without imposing a new tax.

One citizen commented that it is not fair to put on an insurance tax, because homeowners would pay it but those who rent would not. It was noted that the tax would also include auto insurance policies. Court members noted that they only have three options for raising additional revenue, with an insurance tax being one and the occupational tax another. The third option is the property tax, but it was noted that even if the county raises the tax to the maximum they can authorize, it would only bring in about $100,000 more per year.

The discussion on the jail issue also included concern over the distance having to be traveled currently to transport inmates. At this time, according to Judge Stephens, only Leslie County is offering space for McCreary County inmates. He said this was due to other facilities in the area being overcrowded, but Jailer/Transport Officer Jesse Hatfield hinted that the issue goes beyond that, saying that he has been told by other jails that McCreary County is falling behind in paying the bill for inmate housing. Hatfield said in open court that the county needs to pay these other jails on time or none will take the county's inmates. Stephens denied that the county was far behind in payments, saying that currently only jail bills owed from June, and now July, have not been paid.

In the end, no action was taken on the jail issue, but county leaders said they would continue looking at all options. In the meantime, the county is stuck transporting inmates great distances and is at the mercy of whatever county will actually take local inmates.

Thursday evening's session of the McCreary County Fiscal Court included an executive session at the end of the agenda to deal with a personnel issue. Following the closed door pow wow, the court voted to reinstate Kim Coffey to her position as secretary at the McCreary County Road Department, effective retroactively to July 1st. Coffey had reportedly been let go after being off work excessive days due to an injury suffered while on the job. After the vote to reinstate her, Judge Executive Doug Stephens said he had nothing personally against Coffey, but was following advice through workman's comp. procedures in the dismissal. The news that Coffey would be reinstated to her county job was met with cheers and applause from many in the court room who attended the meeting in her support.

We will have more Thursday's McCreary County Fiscal Court meeting on Monday's (July 18th) Daily Update report.

Three seats on the McCreary County Board of Education will be up for grabs in the November General Election this year, and the deadline to file to run for those seats is approaching. The three seats to be on the ballot are Educational Districts 1, 3 and 5 in McCreary County, with the filing deadline being 4:00pm on Tuesday August 9th, which is now less than four weeks away. Those seats are currently held by Nelda Gilreath, Roxanne Shook and Debbie Gibson. To run for school board from one of those districts potential candidates must live in the district, file the appropriate paperwork in the McCreary County Clerk's office with the filing fee and two witnesses from the district, and follow all other applicable laws for serving on the school board. Several seats on the McCreary County Soil and Water Conservation District will also be on the ballot in November, with the same filing deadline. For additional information, contact the McCreary County Clerk's Office at the courthouse at 376-2411.

New laws that were passed by the 2016 General Assembly earlier this year and signed into law by Governor Matt Bevin will go into effect this Friday July 15th. The state constitution requires new laws to take effect 90 days after the close of the General Assembly session, which happened on April 15th. Among new laws going into effect statewide is the informed consent law, which was passed as Senate Bill 4, and requires in-person or real time video conferencing between a woman seeking an abortion and a healthcare provider at least 24 hours before the procedure is to take place. The measure was put forth by bill sponsors who said they hope the measure will reduce the number of abortions in the state. Another new law now requires all high school students be taught CPR by an emergency medical professional during high school as part of either a physical education, health or ROTC course. House Bill 428 was passed and signed into law and makes it a felony to possess, breed, sell or otherwise handle dogs for the purpose of dog fighting. The bill further defines dog fighting and allows people involved in related activities to be charged with first degree animal cruelty, which is a Class D felony. The General Assembly and Governor Bevin also created a “permanent fund” for state government for funds used in the public pensions system. A state Public Pension Oversight Board will also receive annual reports on members and benefits from all state administered retirement systems under new state laws.

Police in nearby Williamsburg announced last week that they were searching for a suspect in an assault that allegedly took place in the Brush Arbor area last Wednesday. 61 year old Bruce Lewis reportedly faces assault charges in connection with the incident and police executed a search warrant at his home on Friday, but say the man was not there. Lewis was said to be last seen on a black motorcycle with the first two digits on the license plate being “28”. Williamsburg Police were asking for the public's help in locating the man, who may be armed and dangerous.

A McCreary County woman was busted in northern Scott County, Tennessee last Wednesday for allegedly driving under the influence and for child endangerment charges. Scott County media sources report that 55 year old Kimberly Diana Probus of Pine Knot was witnessed by officers pulling out of a liquor store and heading north on Highway 27. The officers further reported that they saw Probus cross the center line and cross into the oncoming lane of traffic. The woman's car was stopped by police and she reportedly failed a series of field sobriety tests. Two toddlers, age two and three, were found unrestrained and unclothed in the vehicle at the time of the traffic stop. Probus was arrested and charged with driving under the influence second offense, child neglect, violation of the child restraint law, and failure to maintain her lane. She was lodged in the Scott County Jail following her arrest and the children were taken into protective custody by the Department of Children's Services. Involved in the arrest and investigation were the Oneida Police Department and Scott County Sheriff's Department.

In anticipation of the 2016 season, the McCreary Central Raider Football program, now under new leadership, will begin its summer practice schedule today (Monday July 11th). Sports physicals are being offered for players from 5:00-6:30pm, followed by the first workout of the season starting at 6:00pm. Hence forth, summer practices will be each Monday through Thursday from 4:30-6:30pm for the next few weeks with the Raiders also participating in the Lindsey Wilson Passing Tournament on Saturday July 23rd. Another passing tournament will be held, with the Raiders involved, the following weekend at South Laurel High School. Camp days will be held Monday August 1st and Wednesday August 3rd from 9:00am-2:00pm. The football squad will continue preparing for the new season with a scrimmage against Perry Central on Thursday August 11th and the first regular season game for 2016 will be Friday August 19th against Jenkins on Norm Parsons Field at McCreary Central. Once school starts back on August 17th, the Raiders will practice each afternoon starting at 3:30pm.

When you hear that a man has been struck by a train and that he was naked at the time of the incident, one of your first thoughts might be that drugs or alcohol were likely involved. The Whitley County Sheriff's Department says they believe that is exactly what happened at about 7:00am Wednesday morning when they got the call to respond to the area between Sandy Flats and the Saxton community. That is located just about eight miles south of Williamsburg and that is where officers found a man injured by the train tracks. The man, identified as 51 year old Stephen C. Lawson, was reportedly located over a 60 foot embankment wearing nothing but his socks. He had been struck by a passing train, according to investigators, which knocked him over the embankment. Lawson was transported to Jellico Community Hospital, lucky to be alive but not lucky enough to avoid charges. He was cited by police for third degree criminal trespass, for walking on the train tracks illegally, and for public intoxication.

A fatal traffic accident was reported on Monday, July 4
th, in the Tateville area of Pulaski County, just south of Burnside. The life of 23 year old Jordan New of McCreary County was claimed in the accident that happened at about 6:00pm at the junction of US Highway 27 and Keno Road. The Pulaski County Sheriff's Department reports that a 2001 Chevy Tahoe driven by 60 year old John Lyles of Burnside was heading southbound when it went out of control due to wet road conditions. The Tahoe then spun and struck an oncoming 2008 Chevy Cobalt driven by Jordan New of Stearns. New was flown to UK Medical Center in Lexington, but was pronounced dead from his injuries. His passenger, 18 year old Brooklyn Braden of Whitley City was transported to Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital for treatment of her injuries. 58 year old Rebecca Lyles, a passenger in the first vehicle, was also transported to the hospital for treatment. The Pulaski County Sheriff's Department investigated the fatal crash with assistance at the scene from the Pulaski County Rescue Squad and the Tateville Volunteer Fire Department.

The June session of the McCreary County Grand Jury was busy, with several drug related cases topping the list of returned indictments. Joyce Good, aka Joyce Watson, was indicted on numerous counts including trafficking in a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia, and unlawful possession of meth precursors. Additional charges against Good included receiving stolen property involving a stolen firearm. Other drug related indictments were handed down against James Watters of Stearns for trafficking; Christopher Abbott of Parkers Lake for trafficking; and Daniel Tapley of Strunk for trafficking. Other drug trafficking charges put forth by the grand jury included John Ridner of Pine Knot, Paul Jamison of Winfield, and Heather Murphy of Strunk.

Robert Lowe, Carla Barnett and Julie Lyons were all indicted in connection with an alleged break-in at the Bestway Game Room back in March, with charges including burglary, criminal mischief and theft by unlawful taking over $500. A storage building break-in in Whitley City in March led to the indictment of Clayton Ridner and Jeremy Young on burglary and theft charges.

Douglas Wagers of Oneida, Tennessee was charged by the grand jury with resisting arrest, fleeing or evading police, DUI and a convicted felon possessing a handgun. An indictment was returned against Thomas Colwell of Pine Knot for burglary, fleeing or evading, theft of identity, resisting arrest, and being a persistent felony offender. Dustin Eldridge of Stearns was charged with possession of a controlled substance and drug paraphernalia; October Smith, aka October Spurgeon, was charged with possession and tampering with physical evidence; and Patrick Ross of Oneida was indicted for trafficking and possession of drug paraphernalia. Ross also faces persistent felony offender charges.

Jimmy Troxell of Parkers Lake was indicted by the grand jury for flagrant non-support for failing to provide support to his minor child in the amount of not less than $1,000.

An indictment by the grand jury is not a finding of guilt, but is a formal charge against a suspect in a case.

The July 4
th holiday weekend began with multiple wrecks reported in neighboring counties, with at least two of those confirmed as fatal wrecks. In Wayne County Friday morning, 76 year old Lawrence Haynes crashed his car on Highway 92 just east of Monticello. Haynes was pronounced dead at the hospital where he was taken following the crash. He was the lone occupant of the car in the single vehicle crash. Investigators are looking into what caused the crash. Also on Friday, on Highway 27 in Somerset, 68 year old Patricia Shadoan was reportedly in her wheelchair when she entered an intersection and was hit by an oncoming SUV. Shadoan was taken to the hospital where she later died. The 18 year old driver of the SUV was reportedly not injured. A single vehicle wreck on Interstate 75 in Whitley County Friday shut down a section of the highway for some time. The car, driven by 27 year old Amanda Widener of Williamsburg, reportedly swerved to avoid a tire on the interstate and then crossed the median, overturned and came to rest on a cable barrier. The woman had to be extricated from the vehicle and was airlifted to UT Medical Center in Knoxville. The Whitley County Sheriff's Department is leading the investigation into the crash.

Last minute negotiations involving the future of Pioneer Hospital in Scott County, Tennessee reportedly broke down Friday afternoon, leading to the closure of the facility. While plans had been to close on Friday July 1st, some had hoped that negotiations with a potential buyer for the hospital would come through and would allow the hospital to remain open as it was transitioned to a new owner. However, media sources report that Pioneer Hospital CEO Tony Taylor was contacted by corporate officials late Friday afternoon and told that those talks had failed and to close the hospital at 7:00pm this past Friday, which is what happened. This comes after Pioneer had requested an indefinite extension of the closure notice from the state last Thursday, to allow negotiations to continue with the hospital remaining open. Just twenty four hours later, the announcement came that the hospital was closing at the start of the July 4th holiday weekend. There is no solid plan for the future of the hospital facility in Oneida, as Pioneer filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and there are outstanding liens on the building and property in Oneida. Some in the community have said they hope the hospital can one day open again, while others have admitted they think it will likely never reopen.

Since 911 was first implemented in McCreary County nearly twenty years ago, the county has struggled with getting all residents to pay their share for the service. The main revenue stream for 911 has come from a $2.65 per month, per phone line charge which is on Highland Telephone bills, but with the number of landline phones continuing to decrease through the years, funding has become tight for the service. The county also collects some money from cell phone bills and receives grants for equipment and other special projects, but county leaders have said that funding the service each year is becoming more difficult. During the special session of the McCreary County Fiscal Court Monday afternoon, the issue was discussed when Magistrate Roger Phillips question the amount budget in 911 revenue from phone bills each month. Discussion on the issue including looking at other options for collecting from as many McCreary County citizens as possible, since anyone in the county could need 911 service at anytime. One option put on the table was putting the 911 fee on the local water bill, instead of phone bills. While no action was taken on that option, it was left on the table for possible review. Magistrate Phillips noted that before fees are raised or taxes raised, the county should be doing what it can to collect all money possible already, such as having everyone help in paying for 911. The issue is likely to come up again at a future court meeting.

The Wayne County man accused of killing his wife and hiding her body in a well entered a not guilty plea earlier this month to the charge of murder. Joseph Jones was arrested after Rachel Jones' body was discovered in a well in Wayne County in late April. Jones was indicted on charges including murder, tampering with physical evidence and abuse of a corpse in May and appeared in court this month entering the not guilty plea. A preliminary hearing in the case was set for next Tuesday July 5th in Wayne County Circuit Court. Jones is being held in the Wayne County Detention Center under $1 million cash or two times property bond.

In a partnership between Toyota, the United Way and the Governor's Office of Early Childhood, 63 schools will be added to the United Way Born Learning Academy program in 2016. McCreary County will benefit from the announcement made this week, with Whitley City Elementary and Pine Knot Primary School selected to take part in the program. The effort began in 2012 with a $1 million grant from Toyota and was later increased with state funding allowing even more schools to take part. The program helps by providing resources for parents and families of children under age five and by offering additional educational programs and offerings to children in that age range. Studies have shown, according to program officials, that every dollar spent on early childhood education carries a 7-10% return on investment, adding that children who attend high quality preschool programs are more likely to be employed and have higher earnings as adults. Again, McCreary County's Whitley City Elementary and Pine Knot Primary are listed among the schools added to the early childhood award for 2016.

Voters in neighboring Williamsburg went to the polls Tuesday for a special referendum vote on whether to expand alcohol sales to retail stores. The city had previously voted to allow sales by the drink at restaurants but Mayor Roddy Harrison started a petition to allow for sales of beer, wine and liquor at qualifying stores. Voters approved that measure by a vote of 448 in favor to 241 against. Harrison said the move should help boost the local economy of Williamsburg and help with their tourism industry.

Emergency responders in Wayne County were called to the scene of a fatal crash on East Highway 92 Monday afternoon at about 2:30pm. Authorities say it happened about 4 miles outside of Monticello when a passenger vehicle and a log truck collided. 28 year old Timothy Gregory was pronounced dead at the scene, while another occupant of the passenger vehicle, 31 year old Heidi Kennedy, was airlifted to UK Medical Center in critical condition. The driver of the log truck was not reportedly injured. Kentucky State Police are investigating the fatal crash and say Gregory and Kennedy were not wearing seat belts, but they say they do not suspect alcohol or drugs as a factor in the crash.

While employees of McCreary County government have not seen pay raises or even cost of living increases in several years due to budget strains, county leaders did take steps this week to reward years of service by county employees. During their special session Monday, the McCreary County Fiscal Court voted to adopt a change to the county's administrative code that will allow employees with certain years of service to be awarded additional vacation days. Currently, full time county employees receive one vacation day per month, or a total of twelve days per year. Under the new policy, county employees will be awarded their full twelve days on January 1st to start the year, with employees with at least five years of employment able to receive two additional vacation days. For each five years of employment added on to that amount another two days of vacation time would be added. Employees would also have the option of still working through vacation time, essentially getting paid double for those days. One question was raised by Joni Carson of the McCreary County PVA's office about how this would impact the county's already stressed budget. Judge Executive Doug Stephens said there will be some impact, but he did not expect very many employees to take advantage of the option, saying that most would likely still take their vacations. It was also noted, as an example, that with EMS and 911 when employees are off on vacation, in addition to get paid for their vacation days, other employees still have to fill in for them, getting paid for those hours, so there will really be no increase in cost for those departments. The court approved the plan in a 5-0 vote.

Consumers across Kentucky are being warned to watch out for credit card skimmers at gas stations. Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles issued a warning after police say they are seeing a spike in the number of skimmers on the credit card machines attached to gas pumps. While the reports are being seen in cities like Lexington and Louisville, authorities say skimmers are found in rural areas across the state as well. Skimmers are placed on the machines by scam artists to store data from credit cards used at the pump, so the scammer can access that information and steal identities. Officials say to watch for pumps that appear to have been tampered with, including panels or doors that may look as though they have been removed and replaced.

Solve the problem or shut county government down.” Those were the words of Magistrate Roger Phillips Monday afternoon during a special session of the McCreary County Fiscal Court. Phillips was speaking about the ongoing jail crisis which continues to drain the county of its funds and threatens to drag the county even further down moving forward. The discussion came up as the court was asked to give final passage to the county 2016-2017 budget, which would go into effect this Friday July 1st. The fourth term magistrate voiced concerns over the amount budgeted for housing inmates, which was listed at $600,000, down from the current year's $750,000. He asked how, since the county is transporting inmates even greater distances for housing now, the county could expect to have lower inmate housing expenses. Judge Executive Doug Stephens said it was based on “possible” and “hopeful” plans to change the way inmate booking can be done. County Attorney Conley Chaney addressed the court saying that one proposal submitted to the Department of Corrections would allow the county to open a booking and transfer station in the courthouse which would allow for the booking and possible bonding out of inmates locally, rather than transporting and housing in other counties. Chaney admitted that there is no guarantee DOC will approve the request, but said if it happens it could result in “substantial savings” to the county.

The jail discussion as it related to the budget continued as Magistrate Phillips questioned the county's failure to pay basic bills, including a cell phone bill for Jailer/Transport Officer Jesse Hatfield. Judge Stephens said the bill had been included in a “stack of bills” that were set aside as the county waited for money to come in to pay them and that county officials did not realize the due date had passed on the bill. Phillips noted that in the past when bills went unpaid, at least some of the blame fell on the previous finance officer, but that was not happening now. Stephens said the blame was his and was an oversight in paying the bills.

As county officials continue wrestling with the jail issue for a jail that has now been closed three and a half years, Magistrate Phillips pointed the finger of blame for inaction by the county at Judge Stephens, saying it was a “lack of leadership” on his part and that the judge should be calling DOC daily to try to resolve the issue.

When a vote for final passage of the new budget was called for, three magistrates including Roger Phillips, Jason Mann and Duston Baird, initially voted against approval based on the jail and other issues. Judge Stephens noted that without a budget in place this Friday, July 1st, county government would shut down. Phillips then said he tired of “kicking the can down the road” and that the court needed to “solve the problem” on the jail or shut the government down.

Discussions then continued with county leaders seeming in agreement that the county cannot continue as it is currently and must either reopen the old jail, build a new one, or find some other solution. Magistrates noted that even if the county has to spend $1 million up to $2 million to refurbish the jail or even spend several million dollars to open a new facility, it would be worth financing the cost to get a jail open in the county. Judge Stephens said that, after three and a half years, he is finally ready to present a proposal for a new jail to the court, but failed to give details saying he would present that proposal at the July court meeting.
With that assurance, Magistrate Phillips made a new motion to approve the budget, which this time passed with only Jason Mann voting “nea” saying he still had other concerns.

Other issues raised with the new budget included increases in the amount set aside for the extension service, an amount which increased from $39,000 when first presented last budget year, to $44,000 upon final approval last year, to $48,000 for the new fiscal year.

The court also discussed the $6,600 budgeted for the Lake Cumberland Area Drug Task Force and said they still were not getting progress reports as they previously requested. Task Force representative Robbie Clark told court members he would begin providing reports at least twice per year.

The 2016-2017 McCreary County budget totals just over $7.5 million including all funds.

Compared to one year ago, McCreary County's unemployment rate was improved in May of this year. The rate came in at 7.5%, compared to 8.3% in May 2015. Even with the improvement recorded, McCreary County's rate of jobless was still the second highest in the ten county Lake Cumberland area, with only Russell County's 7.8% coming in higher last month. The lowest rate of job seekers in the Lake Cumberland area was in Green County at only 4.2%. Between May of last year and May of this year, 91 Kentucky counties did see lower jobless rate, while 24 saw higher rates and five were unchanged. Statewide, Woodford County had the lowest unemployment rate last month at 3.3%, while Magoffin County had the highest rate at 15.6%. Jobless rates are based on estimates of active job seekers in a four week period. For more information on Kentucky's labor market and unemployment rates, visit

Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin announced this week his plan for dealing with the state's expanded Medicaid program. Former Governor Steve Beshear expanded the program during his term as part of changes made to accommodate the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, and to get health coverage for many low income Kentuckians who could not afford to buy private insurance. Governor Bevin now says the state cannot afford the $1.2 billion it will cost between 2017-2021 to pay for the expanded Medicaid program. As a way of paying for that program, Bevin announced he wants to create a program called “Helping to Engage and Achieve Long Term Health” or simply known as “HEALTH”. It would include a waiver application process for those on Medicaid coverage and would include those recipients being asked to start paying a monthly premium for health coverage. That premium could range from as low as $1 per month to $15 per month per individual, depending on income levels relative to the national poverty line. Another change would be the loss of dental and vision coverage for those on Medicaid. Governor Bevin said two goals of the plan are to help pay for the cost of the expanded Medicaid program and to encourage those getting benefits through the program to start transitioning to private insurance. The plan must still be approved by federal Medicaid officials. If it is not approved, it could mean that some 400,000 Kentuckians currently on Medicaid would lose their coverage.

We previously reported that Pioneer Community Hospital of Scott County in Oneida, Tennessee was set to close this coming Sunday June 26th. Scott County media sources now say that the closure has been delayed, but only by a few days. The facility will now close at 8:00am on Friday July 1st, giving at least a few extra days of service to the region and work time for its employees. Media sources say Pioneer did not release full details of the decision to delay the closure, but say it may have to do with a change in Tennessee state law regarding requirements of facilities closing. That law reportedly changes July 1st. Pioneer's Family Care Clinic will also apparently remain open until next Friday July 1st as well.

Investigators looking into the hit and run crash in Pulaski County earlier this week that killed a 10 year old boy say they have reason to believe that a red four door car in the area at the time may have been involved. They are seeking the public's help in identifying that car as well as a woman seen driving the car around the time of the crash. The car that hit the boy fled the scene. The boy was taken to the hospital after being hit but was pronounced dead a short time later. The Pulaski County Major Crimes Task Force is leading the investigation.

Authorities in Pulaski County are investigating what they say was a hit and run crash Monday night. The incident resulted in the death of a 10 year old boy on Rock Lick Creek Road which is near Science Hill in northern Pulaski County. The boy was reportedly hit by a car, which fled the scene, and was then taken to the hospital where he later died from his injuries. At last report, police were searching for the vehicle and the driver involved, with charges likely to be filed in the case.

A car chase that began in Pulaski County, made its way through McCreary County, and ended with the car crashing in Scott County, Tennessee, resulted in the arrest of a fugitive wanted in Indiana. Authorities say it began last Wednesday morning when a car driven by 24 year old Cody Lee Morris of Franklin, Indiana failed to stop when officers attempted to pull him over north of Somerset. Morris then led police on a chase that continued south on Highway 27 with officers from the Pulaski County Sheriff's Department and Kentucky State Police following the vehicle into McCreary County, where local deputies reportedly also got involved. The chase continued across the state line into Scott County where the car eventually crashed in Winfield. As officers approached the vehicle, they say Morris attempted to flee on foot but was subdued by a taser and taken into custody. Authorities say Morris was highly intoxicated at the time of the chase and his subsequent arrest. He was charged with driving under the influence 2nd offense, violation of the implied consent law, leaving the scene of an accident, possession of drug paraphernalia, aggravated assault and being a fugitive from justice.

Kentucky Department of Corrections Commissioner Rodney Ballard was in McCreary County last Thursday to discuss with local officials any possibility of reopening the local jail. The McCreary County Voice reports, through a post on their Facebook page, that the news from that meeting does not appear to be positive. According to the report, Commissioner Ballard told officials that the jail building is in “deplorable shape”, adding that the county should not spend any money trying to repair the structure. Before the county could even consider working on the building, a structural engineer would need to be hired to inspect the building to determine if it is even safe to work on. Then, state officials say an architect would have to give the county an estimate on the cost to repair the building. Another issue reportedly addressed with Commissioner Ballard was the possible use of part of the jail building or the use of holding cells in the courthouse. The commissioner said that a change in state law would prohibit the county from looking at either of those options. The bottom line from the meeting appears to be that the chances of reopening the existing jail are slim, while the chance of building a new jail seems even less likely. As it currently stands, McCreary County is transporting those arrested to jails in other counties, adding up expenses from the transports and housing inmates in those other facilities. The situation also adds hardship to those inmates and their families as well as meaning that the jobs that were offered to McCreary County residents at the local jail are not available.

Last week, we reported on comments made by McCreary County Chamber of Commerce President Diana Bybee at the June Fiscal Court meeting which indicated that employees at Pioneer Hospital in Oneida, Tennessee were beginning to be notified of the loss of their jobs. Following that report, a representative from the hospital contacted WHAY Radio denying the reports that the hospital was preparing to close. However, Scott County media sources report that the very next day, last Thursday June 16th, employees at the hospital were told by Tony Taylor, CEO of the local facility, that in fact the hospital will close on June 26th at 8:00am. In addition, Pioneer will close its Family Care Clinic in Oneida this Friday June 24th. This comes after Pioneer had filed for bankruptcy protection on the facility.

A McCreary County man found his name on the list of 26 suspects either arrested or being sought Wednesday as part of a major drug roundup in neighboring Pulaski County. The Pulaski County Sheriff's Department announced that beginning at 7:00am Wednesday morning, various law enforcement officers and agencies began the process of serving the warrants on drug related indictments that had been handed down by the grand jury. The list of suspects included 57 year old James Perry of McCreary County on charges of trafficking in a controlled substance 1st degree, 1st offense. That seemed to be a common charge for most or all of the suspects named with addresses for those suspects ranging from Somerset, Burnside, and Nancy in Pulaski County, to as far away as Louisville. Working the case is the Lake Cumberland Area Drug Task Force, Kentucky State Police, US Marshal's Service, Pulaski County Sheriff's Department, and police officers from Somerset, Eubank, Science Hill, Burnside and Ferguson, along with Pulaski County constables and jail staff. Authorities say the indictments and arrests are the result of undercover investigations spanning several months, adding that additional arrests and charges may be forthcoming.

State Treasurer Allison Ball has issued a warning of a check scam to citizens across Kentucky. According to a press release issued this week, the scam seeks to steal the identity of Kentuckians by mailing a check to the intended victim, asking them to deposit or cash the check. When the check is rejected and the victim contacts the sender, they are told to provide bank account information for a direct deposit. The victim then gives up their name and account information which the scammer can use for future activity and gain. The letters being sent with the checks were reportedly signed as “Mrs. Alison Lundergan Grimes”, who is of course Kentucky Secretary of State. Keep in mind this is scam and is not a legitimate letter or check and that you should not give out personal or account information. The investigation into this scam is continuing with several state agencies involved, including the Treasurer's office, Secretary of State's office and the office of Kentucky's Attorney General.

With state funding being cut to colleges and universities and other economic factors in play, many institutes of higher learning are being forced to make tough decisions, like cutting offerings and programs, laying off staff and raising tuition. The Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS) announced this past Friday that it will now be forced to raise tuition on students beginning in the 2016-2017 academic year, which begins this coming fall semester. The increase will be $9 per credit hour for students who pay in-state tuition. The overall operating budget for KCTCS for 2016-2017 will be $48.5 million less that the current year budget and an $89.1 million reduction from just a couple of years ago. The increase in tuition will impact students attending community and technical college across the state, including at the McCreary Center and Somerset Community College, where budget cuts, reduced enrollment numbers and other factors are already fueling rumors that the future of the local center is in question.

Kentucky State Police have confirmed that two people were killed and one other injured in a Saturday afternoon crash on Highway 27 in Pine Knot. Police say an ATV operated by 43 year old Tony Dewayne Myers of Helenwood, Tennessee was going eastbound on Cal Hill Spur Road when it crossed the intersection with Highway 27, traveling into the path of an oncoming 2004 Chevrolet pickup truck. The truck was driven by 72 year old John Chitwood of Whitley City. The truck was unable to stop and struck the ATV, throwing Myers and his passenger, 45 year old Geneva Jo Ridener of Whitley City, from the vehicle. Myers was pronounced dead at the scene while Ridener was transported to Pioneer Community Hospital in Oneida where she was pronounced dead. Police say no helmets were being used by either of the deceased. Chitwood, the truck's driver, was transported to Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital for treatment of minor injuries. Investigators say alcohol use is suspected as a factor in the crash, which remains under investigation by Kentucky State Police. Assisting at the scene were the McCreary County Sheriff's Department, McCreary County EMS, McCreary County Coroner's Office and the South McCreary Fire Department.

An elderly Pulaski County man lost his life this past Thursday in a traffic crash on Highway 39. Police say 74 year old Gerald Snowden of Burnside was killed when his car was hit by a U-Haul van being driven by Joshua Nottingham. The U-Haul was reportedly heading southbound when it veered into the northbound lane, striking the other vehicle. Nottingham had to be extricated from the van and was airlifted to UK Medical Center in Lexington, while Snowden was cut from his vehicle and was taken to Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital in Somerset where he was pronounced dead. The cause of the crash remains under investigation by Somerset Police.

While we have not received confirmation from other sources, McCreary County Chamber of Commerce President Diana Bybee told the McCreary County Fiscal Court, and all in attendance at their regular meeting last week, that Pioneer Health Services hospital in Oneida, Tennessee will in fact be closing. She said that employees at the hospital had received letters last week notifying them of the company's intentions to close the facility. We previously reported that Pioneer had filed for bankruptcy protection for the facility and that the closure was a possibility, although at that time company officials said they were still hopeful it could remain open. We also reported that before the hospital could close, employees there must be given at least 60 days notice of termination of their jobs. Again, according to comments by McCreary Chamber President Diana Bybee, that notice has apparently been given to employees.

During their regular session last Thursday, the McCreary County Fiscal Court was asked to contribute $10,000 to a regional business park. The McCreary County Chamber of Commerce addressed the court and made the request on behalf of the Southeast Kentucky Business Park and its governing board. The park, located in Corbin, serves several regional counties and, according to local Chamber President Diana Bybee, makes direct distribution payments back to the counties each year. She said that for McCreary County, that payment was over $11,000 in 2012, more than $13,000 in 2013, and up to about $27,000 in 2014. In addition, she noted that many businesses are located in the business park, creating jobs including some for McCreary County residents. Magistrate Roger Phillips said he was not sure where the county would get an additional $10,000 in its budget to go to the regional business park, since the budge is already so strained. Judge Executive Doug Stephens urged the court to go ahead with the contribution, but no action was taken in the end as the county awaits the second reading of the new budget at a special session later this month.

Thursday's court meeting also included the opening of various bids for goods and services to the county for the new year. The court reviewed and discussed the bids received before voting to accept the bids with the exception of drug testing, where two companies bid on the same service. That one will be reviewed for action later this month. There was no bid received for pest control services for county facilities, meaning the county will have to work out a plan to deal with that issue or rebid the service in hopes of getting responses.

The McCreary County Fiscal Court will meeting in special session Monday June 27th at 3:00pm for the second reading and final passage of the new 2016-2017 budget, to go into effect on July 1st. That meeting will also include some other agenda items including final passage of some budget amendments for the current fiscal year and dealing with final bids for the new year.

A Pulaski County woman was arrested this week, charged with child sexual exploitation offenses according to the Kentucky State Police. 46 year old Jennifer L. Summers of Nancy, Kentucky was charged with possession and distribution of matter portraying a sexual performance by a minor. She was arrested following an undercover investigation by the Internet Crimes Against Children division of the KSP after officers discovered images being shared online. A search warrant was then executed at Summers' home where investigators say they confiscated equipment that will be examined at the Kentucky State Police Forensic Lab. Summers was lodged in the Pulaski County Detention Center following her arrest with the investigating continuing.

After years of what seemed like little action by the McCreary County Judge Executive's Office to work on reopening the county's jail, it took a move by magistrates to at least get things moving in the right direction. During the regular session of the McCreary County Fiscal Court Thursday night, Magistrate Jason Mann said he had called the Governor's Office to ask for guidance on trying to get the facility open again. The office reportedly put Mann in contact with Commissioner Ballard who has committed to coming to McCreary County on Thursday June 16th for a 9:00am meeting to look at the jail and discuss work needed to possibly get it open again. Mann said he was told the county would be given a list of work and other issues needed to be addressed and would then have to see what the cost is and if it is possible to finance the project. It was noted by Mann that the current situation is “bankrupting” the county and something has to be done. Magistrate Mann said the public and other county officials are welcome to attend the meeting with state officials. County Attorney Conley Chaney also said it would be a good idea to have the officials look at holding cells that are in the courthouse to begin the process of possibly getting approval to use them for holding inmates for up to thirty hours.

In other jail business, Chaney presented a proposal to the court from the Commonwealth Attorney's office dealing with inmate costs. The proposal would allow the county to charge inmates for housing costs and possibly transportation and medical costs while being housed. This is something previously approved by the county when the jail was open, but enforcement and collections after an inmate was released were not followed through on, and it was noted that nearly $300,000 was listed on the books as owed to the county by inmates when the jail closed. Chaney said inmates not paying these fees could not be charged for non-payment but that money could be sought in civil action and through a collection agency. The court approved moving ahead with the proposal as a way of bringing in at least some funding to help with the mounting inmate housing and transport expenses.

The McCreary County Fiscal Court took up items of business related to recreation Thursday night during their regular session, including opening bids from two companies for the installation of 30' x 40' splash pads at the county park. Splash Pads USA bid $65,000 while another company's bid came in at more than $190,000, presumably for the same project. In the end, the court approved the low bid in hopes that the project can be completed within a few weeks. Meanwhile, a proposal was presented by Magistrate Roger Phillips on behalf of the park board to spend just over $22,000 to improve the Sandhill RV Camp. The money includes materials for electrical work, plumbing and other improvements, with much of the labor being volunteered by Freddie Patrick of the Blazin' Bluegrass Festival board and the water district. The improvements will include adding 36 campsites on the north side of the camp and improvements to restrooms and more. The court approved the project. Funding for the splash pads and Sandhill work is coming from a dedicated park fund with money that had been set aside for any possible legal action on an outstanding claim by Weddle Company, which work on the original park project. The company has since waived any rights to such a claim, freeing up that money for use at the recreational facilities.

A family outing Monday turned tragic as an 11 year old boy drowned while swimming in the Big South Fork. Authorities confirmed that a search began Monday for the boy who went missing after going under the water. The search continued until dark Monday and resumed Tuesday with the body of 11 year old Kaden Allen of Parkers Lake being discovered around noon that day. The preliminary cause of death is drowning but officials say an autopsy was scheduled in Frankfort to determine exact details. Park Service crews were joined by local emergency responders in the search and recovery effort.

Two neighboring counties have been the locations for a couple of major marijuana discoveries in the last week. Drug agents from the Scott County Sheriff's Department, working with the 8th Judicial District Drug Task Force, located and seized almost three pounds of pot last week. That was at a home on Pistol Lane where the property's owner, 43 year old Travis Newport, was charged with possession of marijuana for resale, a felony charge. In Whitley County, authorities discovered marijuana being grown at a residence in the Siler community on Monday morning. This came following a tip to the Whitley County Sheriff's Department. 29 year old Jesse Hembree was arrested at the scene and charged with cultivating marijuana 5 plants or more and resisting arrest and was lodged in the Whitley County Detention Center. Officers confirmed locating and seizing 15 cups containing small marijuana plants growing at the location. The investigations continue in both cases.

A new study shows a decade gap between life expectancy numbers in Kentucky counties. The study and a map of the state showing the various expectancy levels was officially released at a SOAR summit in Pikeville on Monday. The data shows that the state's highest average life expectancy is found in Oldham County at 79 years of age with the lowest found in three eastern Kentucky counties, including Perry, Breathitt and Wolfe Counties, at 70 years. Also in eastern Kentucky, the next lowest life expectancy was 71 years of age found in Floyd, Harlan and Owsley Counties. The study found that eastern Kentucky recorded the lowest ages for life expectancy while the highest ages can be found in the triangle between Lexington, Louisville and northern Kentucky, linking higher life spans with more employment opportunities along with educational, recreational and health coverage opportunities. One issue found in southern and eastern Kentucky is the lack of adequate healthcare providers, based on the population, along with less participation in health education and support programs. In McCreary County, the life expectancy number was on the lower end of the scale ay 73 years of age, compared to Pulaski County at age 75, Wayne County at age 76 and Whitley County at age 72. As noted, the study and map were released during the SOAR summit Monday. SOAR, Shaping Our Appalachian Region, was introduced by former Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear and US Congressman Hal Rogers. The initiative is geared toward improving life in the eastern part of the state, including economics, education and health. A SOAR committee made several health recommendations in 2014 including things like hiring more community health workers, banning smoking in public places, school health programs and promoting health living. The Lexington Herald Leader reported on the new study and map on life expectancy in Kentucky.

A theft ring that encompasses several counties, including McCreary County, is being investigated by the local sheriff's department. The McCreary County Voice reports that the case began over the past several weeks with a number of incidences of vehicles being broken into with items stolen. Some of those vehicles were reportedly parked near Cumberland Falls and Noe's Dock in the northern section of the county. Investigators believe the theft ring may take in several other counties as well. A suspicious vehicle was spotted by Deputy Odell Smith last week while on patrol, but the suspects fled following a pursuit. The vehicle was confiscated and a number of stolen items apparently found inside. The investigation is ongoing and The Voice reports that arrests and charges may be pending in the case.

An unusual call came in to the Whitley County 911 Dispatch Center last week, as a man said the woman he was with had just given birth in a tent while they were camping. When authorities arrived on scene they learned this was no ordinary camping trip. Officers discovered a number of items used in the manufacturing of methamphetamine. 25 year old Meagan Helton was taken to the hospital along with her newborn, but that did not prevent police from charging her, and 42 year old David Osborne, with manufacturing meth and unlawful possession of meth precursors. Osborne was taken to jail while Helton was cited to court because of her status in the hospital. The baby was taken to UK Medical Center in Lexington in critical condition. Police if the newborn lives, it will be placed with Social Services. The case remains under investigation by the Whitley County Sheriff's Department.

With school out for this year and planning already underway for the next school year, McCreary Central High School has at least two new names to add to their roster of staff for 2016-2017. Two new athletic coaches have been hired by the school district for the high school, starting with Jimmy Voight who was recently named head boys' basketball coach, after long time coach Robert Jones stepped down. Jones will remain as Athletic Director for the school district. Meanwhile, school leaders have now announced Lucas Ford as the new head football coach, after Justin Bozeman recently resigned the post. Both new coaches have a steep hill to climb with losing records to overcome for both sports at McCreary Central. Voight and Ford are reportedly already working to get the programs moving in the right direction ahead of next school year.

Authorities in Pulaski County say a homeowner there thwarted attempts by a suspect in a home invasion robbery. It happened late Tuesday evening off Wesley Chapel Road when an armed suspect reportedly kicked in the back door of the home and entered, armed with a shotgun. The homeowner confronted the suspect, they struggled, and the owner came away with the gun. He held the suspect until police could arrive. Arrested was 32 year old Shane Longlott of Somerset, charged with the home invasion attempt as well as outstanding warrants for him for a previous home break in. The Pulaski County Sheriff's Department is leading the investigation.

The Memorial Day holiday weekend turned tragic with fatalities reported in two neighboring counties. A 17 year old girl died over the weekend when she was thrown from an all terrain vehicle on which she was riding in Laurel County. A teenage boy was reportedly operating the ATV at the time of the crash. Both were transported to St Joseph Hospital in London where she was pronounced dead. In Scott County, Tennessee, 25 year old Danielle Kay Stahley of Michigan was killed Friday evening in an all terrain accident on River Road when the vehicle in which she was riding went over an embankment and went into New River. The driver of the vehicle, 26 year old Joshua Michael Ward, was injured in the crash. Both occupants had been drinking prior to the accident, according to investigators, and Ward has been charged with driving under the influence.

The McCreary County Grand Jury met for their May session, returning indictments against ten suspects in a variety of cases. In addition to Delford Smith, who we reported on for his indictment on rape charges, Jimmy Watson of Revelo was indicted for trafficking in a controlled substance, fleeing or evading police, resisting arrest, criminal mischief, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of marijuana. Reggie Dawson of Strunk was charged with receiving stolen property over $500 involving a stolen 1998 Jeep Cherokee; Jeffrey Taylor of Whitley City was indicted for possession of a controlled substance; Christina Bowman of Stearns was indicted for flagrant non-support; Jerry Lay of Pine Knot was charged with flagrant non-support; and Calvin Clark of Stearns was also indicted for flagrant non-support. Those cases involve suspects accused of failing to provide support payments for their minor children. Jennifer Swain of Whitley City was charged with trafficking in a controlled substance; Barbara Combs was charged with criminal possession of a forged instrument and Allen Sexton of Oneida was charged with possession of a controlled substance. Listeners are reminded that an indictment by the grand jury is a formal charge in a case and not a finding of guilt.

The Whitley County Sheriff's Department has reported that a 21 year old man from Corbin was arrested this past weekend, charged with abusing a two year old child. Joshua Eaton was taken into custody after officers investigated claims by an adult female who said she was struck by him while trying to protect her two year old son. Police said the child did show signs of being physically abused. Eaton was lodged in the Whitley County Detention Center and was charged with first degree criminal abuse of a child under age 12 and fourth degree assault for domestic violence. The case remains under investigation.

A Stearns man accused of holding a woman against her will and forcing her to have sex with him last year has now been indicted on related charges.
The McCreary County Voice
reports that the May indictments handed down by the McCreary County Grand Jury include charges against 45 year old Delford L. Smith for the incident that allegedly took place in November of last year on West Highway 92. Officers responded to a call from a female victim claiming that she had been held and raped by Smith and that she was able to get away and call authorities from a neighbor's home. Smith was arrested at that time and following months of investigating, the case was finally heard by the grand jury earlier this month with the indictment returned. Delford Smith was charged with rape first degree, sodomy first degree, assault fourth degree, and unlawful imprisonment first degree. Listeners are reminded that an indictment by the grand jury is a formal charge against a suspect in a case, but is not a finding of guilt.

The Kentucky Office of Employment and Training has released the latest unemployment figures for the state, showing improvement in the jobless picture in 83 out of 120 counties in Kentucky in April of this year. McCreary County's rate of job seekers was down to 7.1% last month, as compared to 7.5% in April of last year and a major drop from 9.4% just back in March of this year. Even with the improvement, McCreary County had the second highest jobless rate in the ten county Lake Cumberland District, ahead of only Russell County at 7.8%. Green County continued with the lowest rate in the region at 4.2% in April. Statewide, the unemployment rate came in at 4.6% last month, down from 5.9% in March and also down from 4.9% in April of last year. That is slightly lower than the national jobless rate of 4.7%. Unemployment numbers are based on the number of active job seekers in a four week period. More information on Kentucky's labor market and unemployment rates is available online at kylmi.ky.gov.

Discussions during the April meeting of the McCreary County Fiscal Court led to a decision to use some money set aside for the county park to install a new splash pad system. At that time, citizen and businessman JC Egnew agreed to pay half the cost of installing the new recreational offering, if the county would cover the rest of the cost using money in a dedicated fund for the park. The court agreed and a notice has now been posted that the McCreary County Fiscal Court is officially seeking bids from companies for the supply and installation of a 30' x 40' splash pad for the park. Bids will be accepted until 4:00pm on Thursday June 9th, with the court to meet that evening at 6:00pm with possible action on the bid submissions. The county had previously applied for grant funds through the state for a splash pad facility but that request was rejected.

During their regular meeting Monday evening, the McCreary County Board of Education approved a plan that has already been adopted by more than forty other school districts throughout the state to deal with days missed for snow, illness and other issues. The “Non-Traditional Instruction”, or NTI days, will allow the local district to send home instructional packets with students early next school year. When school is missed for a snow event or illness with multiple days missed in a row, school administrators will be able to call for an NTI day to be used. When conditions are safe, staff including teachers will still report to school and students will still be instructed through various means including online, e-mail, phone or simply by completing work in the packet that will then be turned in when school is back in session. By taking part in this program, the local school district could use up to ten of these days in a school year to avoid staying in session as late into the summer. Some questions were raised about the plan by school board members, including issues of safety for teachers and the lack of personal instructional interaction between students and teachers. In the end, the board decided that the positives outweighed negatives with the plan and approved adopting the program for use beginning next school year.

One issue that appeared under “public comments” on the agenda for this week's McCreary County Board of Education meeting was an effort to name the auditorium at McCreary Central High School after long time choral teacher Chris Hubbs. Principal Sharon Privett spoke to the board about the influence and impact Hubbs had on students throughout the years, noting that he had started at the school in the late 1970s. Even after retiring, Hubbs came back to teach several more years at McCreary Central before retiring again. All in attendance at the school board meeting seemed open to moving ahead with honoring Hubbs by naming the auditorium for him, but because the items was not an action item on the agenda, the board could only ask that the item be placed on the June meeting's agenda for vote at that time. That meeting will be Thursday June 9th at 6:30pm at the board office in Stearns.

Meeting for their May session Monday night, the McCreary County Board of Education nearly failed to approve a tentative budget for 2016-2017. The school board is required to pass a tentative spending plan and submit that to the state department of education no later than May 30th. Presented with the budget this week, the initial vote by the school board was 2-2 with Board Chairman Brandon Kidd absent from the meeting. Members Roxanne Shook and Nelda Gilreath voted against approval mainly in protest over positions within the district being created without being fully explained or identified to the board. The main position in question was an administrative assistant for the Director of Special Education, which Superintendent Mike Cash said was included in a salary schedule approved by the board in recent months. The board members protesting said they were not told of the new position being created and were simply handed a copy of the salary schedule right before the meeting. After taking the vote, and with the threat of not having a budget to submit to the state by the deadline, administrators explained that the positions in question were not even included in the budget as they are paid with federal grant funds. Those funds were not included in the tentative budget because of federal grant information not being available. District finance officers noted that a working budget will be presented to the school board later at which time changes can be made. With the new information in hand, School Board Member Nelda Gilreath opted to reverse her negative vote and voted to approve the tentative budget.

Finance officers said the budget lists just over $18 million in General Fund revenue and a carryover of at least $1.4 million from the current fiscal year. They said that was a conservative estimate and that the actual budget surplus going into the next year could be about $2 million.

The next school board meeting is slated for Thursday June 9th at 6:30pm.

The Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet's Division of Waste Management announced at the end of last week that 45 recycling grants had been awarded to communities across the state. In addition, the division announced 27 household hazardous waste grants and one grant for a compost pilot project. The total award statewide is just over $4.5 million for the 73 grant awards. Listed among the recycling grants approved for 2016-2017 is McCreary County Fiscal Court which has been awarded $20,740 to continue its recycling program. That program currently consists of collecting cardboard from many of the local businesses in the county, locating recycling bins at strategic locations around the county, and accepting recycling in trailers at the McCreary County Park and Pine Knot Primary School. The recycling center is also open daily at the transfer station in Stearns. Other area communities receiving recycling grants included Wayne County at $12,000; London-Laurel County at $141,000; and Pulaski County at $250,000.

The annual Relay for Life in McCreary County wrapped up with the main event this past weekend at Sandhill RV Camp. While the weather was not ideal for the event, with windy, rainy, cool weather around the area on Saturday for the all day event, organizers still say that the days activities were enjoyed by a good crowd. The event included the traditional survivor's lap, lighting of luminaries, and live music. The Relay for Life was moved to Sandhill Camp this year in large part due to concerns over weather. Sandhill Camp offers an large shelter for events to be held rain or shine. McCreary County's 2016 Relay for Life brought in $21,651 for the American Cancer Society's fight against cancer, according to Brooke Whitis, regional field representative for the American Cancer Society.

A shooting incident Sunday evening in neighboring Pulaski County led authorities to begin a search for a suspect in the case. Police were called to the scene on Ringgold Road where they found 37 year old Harlan Richardson suffering from a gunshot wound. Richardson was flown to UK Medical Center in Lexington for treatment. The suspect in the shooting was identified as Dewayne Peters and a search began for the man who police say had fled the scene. The car he left in, a Nissan passenger car, was later located in a flea market parking lot in Somerset but Peters remained at large with authorities searching for him. The Pulaski County Sheriff's Department is asking that anyone with information on the shooting call their office at 606-678-5145.

A Pulaski County woman was in court this past Friday where she entered a guilty plea to the charges of theft and tampering with physical evidence. Amanda Braddock was originally charged with complicity to commit murder in connection with the disappearance and murder of Edward Vanwormer last September. That man was eventually located under newly poured concrete at his own home after tips led police to his son, Jedidiah Vanwormer and Amanda Braddock. The pair had later fled the area and were arrested in North Carolina. Vanwormer is facing murder charges in connection with the case.

The Friday afternoon trip home from school turned scary for those on one local school bus. The McCreary County School District confirmed that school bus number 702 was involved in what they call a minor accident just after 4:00pm Friday at the junction of Highway 90 and Piney Grove Road in the north end of the county. According to an e-mail sent out to parents from McCreary County Schools Superintendent Mike Cash, emergency responders were on the scene of the accident quickly and, after each student and the bus driver on board were checked by local EMS personnel, it was reported that there were no injuries in the accident. On the scene of the accident were McCreary County EMS, the McCreary County Sheriff's Department and Kentucky State Police.

Meeting in special session Friday afternoon, the McCreary County Fiscal Court was presented a budget proposal for fiscal year 2016-2017 to begin July 1st. There had been much discussion about whether the county could present a balanced budget, as is required, due to shortfalls reported in the current fiscal year and projected into next year. The number being kicked around put the shortfall at about $350,000. Judge Executive Doug Stephens opened budget discussions Friday by saying that local EMS/911 Director Jimmy Barnett had crunched numbers on a plan to allow the local ambulance service to conduct non-emergency transports for hospitals and other facilities, bringing in additional revenue from billing for that service. Coincidentally, Judge Stephens said that Barnett felt that the service could bring in an additional $350,000 annually by doing this, the exact amount being discussed as a budget shortfall. This, according to Stephens, allows the county to put forth a balanced, although very tight, budget for the next year.

One budget items discussed is the amount provided to the extension service by the county. Magistrate Roger Phillips said that at the last court meeting Judge Stephens described an increase in those funds of about $4,000. Phillips said looking at the budget that the figure was closer to about $9600. He said the court was misled by Stephens on those figures, adding that he was not sure how the court could approve such an increase for the extension service when they are not able to provide pay increases for county employees. Judge Stephens said part of the extension funding increase comes from an increase in rent that the office must pay to KCTCS at the McCreary Center. Magistrate Duston Baird questioned whether the service could look for another location with lower rent and it seemed all options were still on the table.

Another issue raised was inmate housing expenses, which were first going to be budgeted at $750,000 for the year. Judge Stephens explained that based on estimates from previous years the amount can be lowered to $600,000. That includes only the cost of housing inmates and does not include all inmate or jail related expenses, such as transport.

Following discussion, the court voted to approve the first reading of the 2016-2017 budget, noting that it must still be submitted for any changes to the state and that the court can still make final changes before the second reading next month.

Fiscal Court was also asked to approved the salary schedule for county employees for the next year. Magistrate Roger Phillips questioned a line item that totals more than $53,000 for a full time economic development/tourism director position. Judge Stephens said that was in the plan just in case the court opted to create and fill such a position in the new year, although no definite plans seem to be in place for dealing with economic development or tourism.

Questions were also raised about why the county needed two deputy judge executive positions. Stephens said both individuals perform different duties, noting that Andy Powell works mainly on grants and special projects and works only part time and that Randy Jones also handles finance officer duties. Judge Stephens also noted that having Jones in the office daily with the title of deputy judge allows him to help make administrative decisions, but he struggled to come up with examples of decisions made by Jones when questioned on that point by Magistrate Roger Phillips. The court approved the salary schedule presented, with Roger Phillips and Jason Mann casting votes against approval in the 3-2 vote.

The next meeting of the McCreary County Fiscal Court is set for Thursday June 9th at 6:00pm.

A pedestrian in McCreary County was hit by a car and killed late Tuesday evening, while walking along US Highway 27 just south of Stearns. Authorities say 37 year old Bobby Stephens was walking near the center line of Highway 27 at about 10:30pm Tuesday night when a Dodge truck, driven by 41 year old Jennifer Pugh of Pine Knot, struck him. McCreary County Coroner Tim Corder was reportedly called to the scene where the man was pronounced dead. Also responding were the Whitley City Fire Department, McCreary EMS, McCreary County Sheriff's Department and Kentucky State Police. Officials closed Highway 27 for a short time to clear the scene Tuesday night. Authorities say the driver of the vehicle was not injured. The case remains under investigation.

Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes was right on the mark with her prediction ahead of Tuesday's primary election in the state when she said about 20% of the state's voters would probably cast ballots. In fact, the unofficial tally from yesterday's election put Kentucky's voter turnout at 20.65%. McCreary County did not even show that much interest in the primary with only about 11% of local voters heading to the polls. Grimes appeared on Kentucky Sports Radio Tuesday morning where she noted that Republican turnout across the state was expected to be low because of confusion among many who thought they could not vote because they had already cast ballots in the Presidential contest back in March. It was noted that there were still a number of races on the ballot for Republicans to choose from, including the primary for US Senate and US Representative. Locally, roughly 800 Republicans did vote along with just over 400 Democrats.

Statewide results gave Hillary Clinton a slight edge in the Democratic race for Presidential nominee, but only about 2,000 votes separated her from Bernie Sanders out of more than 400,000 ballots cast in the state.

In the US Senate race, incumbent Republican Rand Paul claimed victory over his challengers getting nearly 85% of the votes. Democrat Jim Gray won his primary with nearly 59% of the vote to Sellus Wilder's 12.87% and all other challengers getting less than 30% combined. That will set up a Rand Paul/Jim Gray match for US Senate in November.

US Congressman Hal Rogers had no problem claiming re-election, winning the GOP primary with more than 82% of the vote, to his challenger, John Burk, Jr's 17.57%. Hal Rogers will face no competition in the November General Election.

Another US Congressional race of interest in the state was in the 1st district in western Kentucky, where former Agriculture Commissioner and former candidate for Governor, James Comer, had no problem claiming victory in the Republican primary with nearly 61% of the vote. Comer lost his bid to be Governor in 2015, losing that primary to current Governor Matt Bevin.

McCreary County numbers show 11.30% of the voters turning out Tuesday, with 79.63% of Republicans casting ballots for Rand Paul for US Senate and 81.41% for Hal Rogers. Democrats locally went for Bernie Sanders with 50% of the vote to Hillary Clinton's 42% and others at about 8%. Jim Gray won the McCreary County vote from Democrats for US Senate with 63% of the votes.

McCreary County voters heading to the polls in November will be asked to vote for President of the United States, US Senate and, some districts locally, will vote for school board member later this year.

The 2016 class of Rogers Explorers, sponsored through the Center for Rural Development in Somerset, includes several McCreary County Middle School students. Eighth graders selected for the honors locally include Laura Hamlin, Amber Bryant, and Emily Bryant. They will spend three days and two nights this summer on a college campus where they will work to further develop their skills and knowledge in areas including math, science, and technology. The program, named for US Congressman Hal Rogers, is open to eight graders who excel in these areas throughout the Center's service area in southern and eastern Kentucky. Additional information on the Rogers Explorers program can be obtained by calling the Center at 606-677-6000 or by e-mailing youth@centertech.com. You can also visit www.centeryouthprograms.com or follow the Rogers Explorers program on Facebook.

A recent study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and reported on by Kentucky Health News, shows that nearly a quarter of the 220 counties nationwide at highest risk from an outbreak of HIV and Hepatitis C from drug use are in Kentucky. 54 of the 220 counties noted in the study are in Kentucky, while 8 of the top 10 are actually in eastern Kentucky. McCreary County is also on the list, coming in at 48
th nationally according to the study. Neighboring Whitley County came in at 14 while Wayne County is on the list at 99. The reports sheds light on the problem of intravenous drug use and says that the risk of spreading both HIV and Hepatitis C from sharing needles is very high in certain areas. One of the most alarming numbers in the study is that many of Kentucky's cases reported are among youth, ages 12 to 29, who have been sharing needles for drug use. More information on the recent study and its meaning can be found in an article in last week's edition of The McCreary County Voice. You can also find more online at

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet has announced that a new online service will allow motorists in the state to renew license plates without having to step foot in their county clerk's office. The new application is easy to use, according to state officials, and can be used from virtually any device or computer. To use the service, the motorist will enter the vehicle title number and license plate number along with payment information. After the renewal is completed, registration credentials are mailed to the motorist. Cabinet officials say most counties in Kentucky are on board currently with using the online service, although a small number of yet to sign on. For more information on the new service you can call the Department of Vehicle Regulation at 502-564-1257 or go online to drive.ky.gov.

The past week or so has been busy for McCreary County law enforcement officers, mainly dealing with a number of drug related arrests. The McCreary County Voice reports that one such case involved a traffic stop last Wednesday night by Deputy Milford Creekmore with several glass pipes, scales, and two bags containing what was believed to be methamphetamine found inside the vehicle. Arrested was 38 year old Bradley Smith on charges of trafficking in a controlled substance and possession of a controlled substance. His passengers were also arrested on drug offenses, including 32 year old Jenny Alice Kidd, 26 year old Zachery Dean Rexroat, and 35 year old Brenda Lee Smith.

Authorities also told The Voice of a separate incident that same evening involving the arrest of 27 year old Charles B. Kennedy who they say acted suspiciously and admitted to using meth. He was arrested on charged of criminal mishief, arson, menacing, resisting arrest, public intoxication and criminal trespassing.

Another drug related case started with Constable Donald Daugherty going to a residence on Owens Road in Stearns looking for a suspect with outstanding warrants. There officers found a number of items related to drug use and trafficking and arrested five individuals who were at the residence, including Elizabeth A. Chambers, Ronnie Johnson, Timothy Ross, Laura Taylor and Daniel Taylor, all on trafficking charges.

These cases remain under investigation by local law enforcement.

After months of serving as interim McCreary County Schools Superintendent, Mike Cash was officially selected to fill the post during a special meeting of the local school board this week. The board met Wednesday night for nearly four hours, including most of that time in executive session interviewing finalists for the job put forth by the selection committee. That committee had worked for weeks to review applicants, conduct their own interviews and make recommendations to the school board. A little before 10:00pm Wednesday night, the meeting came to a close with a vote by the board to approve a contract with Cash for the top spot in the school district.

We have previously reported extensively on the investigation into actions of the McCreary County Board of Education by the Kentucky General Assembly Office of Education Accountability (OEA). We provided reports on the OEA findings as well as responses issued by the McCreary County School District. However, one voice apparently left out of these reports was that of School Board member Roxanne Shook. Shook, through her attorney Larry Bryson of London, Kentucky, has now issued her own response. A letter on behalf of Shook to officials with OEA states that she was “never contacted in any manner by anyone to respond to the preliminary report...”. The letter continues that the school board took no official action to approve the response issued on behalf of the school district, adding that in Mrs. Shook's opinion the only individuals responsible for the responses issued were Board Chairman Brandon Kidd and Acting Superintendent Mike Cash.

In her own response to allegations against the school board, Shook takes issue with a board response to issues at the McCreary Academy in which the response states that enrollment at the Academy was 86 students instead of 34 as stated in the OEA investigative report. Shook points to a meeting in December of last year in which a study about the Academy was provided and shows the average daily attendance for the program was never higher than 35.60 during that school year. This comes in response to the investigations claim that the board violated state law by failing to use district resources for the promotion of public education and general health and welfare of the pupils of the district and that the board usurped the authority of the superintendent in the process.

Roxanne Shook's response points to several other issues from the investigation and to the responses from the school district of which she says she was never given the opportunity to approve or take part in. Her response to the report also states that she “...continues to be prevented from seeing or participating in some or certain correspondence and dialogue related to certain issues that come before the McCreary County Board of Education.” She points to the fact that no formal meeting was called to discuss the school district response to the OEA reports.

Again, the response by Roxanne Shook, McCreary County School Board member, was issued by her attorney, dated December 15, 2015, and was sent to officials with the Kentucky General Assembly Office of Educational Accountability for review.

School Board Member Roxanne Shook's Response to OEA Investigation/School Board Response (pdf)

Download and view the entire OEA final report and responses issued by the school district by using the links below.

OEA Final Investigative Report on the McCreary School Board (pdf)

Response Issued by School District to Final report by OEA (pdf)

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