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(Last updated Thursday April 17, 2014 @ 7:00am)

A major drug roundup was executed in neighboring Whitley County Tuesday with at least 18 suspects arrested and lodged in the county’s jail. Involved in the drug investigation and roundup were the Whitley County Sheriff’s Department, Williamsburg and Corbin Police Departments and the Kentucky Vehicle Enforcement. Charges filed against the suspects included trafficking in a controlled substance. The investigation is continuing with authorities saying additional arrests are pending.

State officials recently released the annual unemployment figures for 2013 and compare those numbers to the previous year. McCreary County’s rate of job seekers increased slightly last year to 13.5%, up from 13.3% in 2012. In fact, most counties in the ten county Lake Cumberland region saw higher unemployment rates in 2013 with the only exceptions being Wayne and Clinton Counties which dropped and Pulaski and Taylor Counties which were unchanged between the two years. The Lake Cumberland region saw an annual unemployment rate in 2013 of 9.5%, up slightly from 2012 when the rate was 9.4%. Statewide the jobless rate was steady at 8.3% both years. For more information on unemployment rates and the state’s labor market, visit kylmi.ky.gov.

Signups for the “Clean Sweep” campaign in McCreary County began this week and will continue through next Friday April 25th. Local residents can sign up to get involved in cleaning up their yard, roadway, or entire neighborhood during the community cleanup weekend which will be Saturday April 26th through Monday April 28th, when the county will pick up filled bags of trash for disposal. Those signing up at the McCreary County Judge Executive’s office to take part will receive trash bags and information and can also attend a free “movie in the park” event being held Saturday April 26th at 8:00pm at the McCreary County Park. Funding cuts this year prevented the Eastern Kentucky PRIDE program from sponsoring spring cleanup activities such as the t-shirt design contest, Cumberland Falls cleanup and others. PRIDE is instead relying on local communities to put together cleanup efforts, such as the “clean sweep” campaign sponsored by the McCreary County Fiscal Court and 109 Solid Waste Board. For more information call the Judge’s office at 376-2413.

Officials in Wayne County began a search Monday night after an inmate at the jail there apparently walked away from custody. Staff of the Wayne County Detention Center noticed that Anthony Shaw was missing from the jail at just before midnight Monday. Shaw was being held on charges for manufacturing methamphetamine and was reportedly going to be eligible for parole in December. He will now face additional jail time for escape once he is captured. Anthony Shaw is described as a white male about 5’9” tall weighing about 150lbs.

Police say a pair led them on a wild chase early Monday morning in Laurel County after officers had been alerted to watch for a man involved in a domestic assault. When they spotted the suspect driving a stolen truck, police pursued the man starting about 12 miles from London along Kentucky Highway 490. The chase reportedly continued for several miles and took in public highways as well as an ATV trail through Laurel County. Speeds of the chase reached about 90 miles an hour at times before officers briefly lost sight of the truck. When they located the vehicle again, flames were coming out of the floor board and the suspects had fled the scene on foot. The two men involved were eventually located trying to hide in the woods and both were arrested and lodged in the Laurel County Detention Center on a variety of charges. The suspects were identified as 46 year old Doren Napier and 55 year old Roger Vaughn, both of the East Bernstadt community. The investigation is being led by the Laurel County Sheriff’s Department.

The Kentucky National Guard has announced an effort to compile the names of Guardsmen in the state who have been killed in the line of duty between March 1912 and today. The names will be used for a new Kentucky National Guard memorial. Those with names to submit can e-mail that information to info@kyngmemorial.com.

A family outing at a skating rink in Somerset last Wednesday reportedly turned tragic for a woman who now lives in Pulaski County but is originally from McCreary County. LaDonna Hurd was skating when she reportedly fell and hit her head. She was transported from the scene and is now at UK Hospital in Lexington in the neurological ICU unit. Hurd, a mid-90s graduate of McCreary Central High School, is a home health care nurse and firefighter with the Bronston and Burnside volunteer fire departments. Several of the members of those departments are working to raise money to help support her family in terms of travel, lodging and meals while they are staying by her side in the hospital. A benefit fund for LaDonna Hurd has been established at Citizens National Bank in Somerset and some fundraising efforts are also being planned for the next few weeks.

With the primary election across Kentucky just over a month away, it is time to look at some important dates leading up to May 20th. Next Monday, April 21st, is the last day for Kentucky residents to register to vote. This includes those not already registered or those who wish to change their address or voting precinct because they have moved. This does not include changing political party affiliation, since that deadline was at the end of last December. The voter registration books will be closed as of April 22nd ahead of the primary election. Applications may be made for absentee ballots between May 2nd and May 19th with May 13th being the last day to apply for a mail-in absentee ballot. All mail-in absentee ballots must be received by the County Board of Elections by 6:00pm on primary election day. The primary will be held Tuesday May 20th in all counties across Kentucky, including McCreary County where all eighteen (18) precinct voting locations will be open and accepting voters between 6:00am and 6:00pm. For more information on the election or your voter registration, you can stop by or call the McCreary County Clerk’s office at 376-2411 or visit their website at www.mccrearycountyclerk.com.

Turkey hunters across Kentucky hit the woods this past Saturday (April 12th) as the spring wild turkey hunting season opened in the state. The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources reports that Kentucky generally outpaces all states in the region in terms of turkeys harvested per square mile in the spring season, especially based on the numbers from last year. Last year, nearly 32,500 turkeys were taken during the spring season putting the state slightly ahead of Tennessee for turkeys per square mile. About 90,000 people reportedly hunt turkeys in Kentucky with each allowed to take two bearded birds during the season, which will continue through May 4th. No more than one turkey may be taken in a single day by each hunter and hunting hours are limited to 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset. For more on hunting in Kentucky you can visit the Department of Fish and Wildlife website at fw.ky.gov.

The Lake Cumberland Community Action Agency’s spring Garden Program will begin taking applications tomorrow (Tuesday April 15th) and applications will continue being taken while funding is available. Interested individuals in McCreary County can apply at the agency’s Whitley City office at 431 North Hwy 27, in the Big M Plaza, between 8:30am and 3:00pm weekdays. Eligible households will receive vouchers for garden supplies which are redeemable at approved vendors in the area. Benefit amounts are based on household size. Applicants will need to bring proof of income from the previous month for all household members, or zero income forms, as well as social security cards and other information for each household member. Funding for the Garden Program is provided to the Lake Cumberland Community Action Agency under a contract with the Community Services Block Grant Act of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. For information call the Whitley City office at 376-2593.

Those McCreary County property owners who have still yet to pay their 2013 property tax bills are not only considered delinquent in paying but are also running out of time to make payments in the current phase. According to the McCreary County Sheriff’s Department, which serves as the county’s primary property tax collection office, bills are currently due along with a 21% penalty payment through the close of business next Tuesday April 15th. After that date, unpaid bills will be forwarded to the County Clerk with additional penalties and fees to prepare for a delinquent tax sale. For information on paying your tax bill, stop by the McCreary County Sheriff’s Department or visit their website at www.mccrearysheriff.com.

The calendar for the rest of this school year is in place for McCreary County Schools. The thirty (30) minutes added to the end of each day will continue through Wednesday May 28th and will allow the district to reach the state required 1062 instructional hours on June 6th, the last day for students locally. The only breaks for local schools between now and the final day in June will be Tuesday May 20th which is primary election day in Kentucky and Monday May 26th which is observed as Memorial Day.

The revenue reported by McCreary County officials for the occupational tax increased in March as compared to the same month one year ago. Last month’s collections came in at $68,125.49 up by more than $10,000 from March 2013 when just under $58,000 was collected. After about $3400 in expenses was deducted from last month’s collections, $64,686 was left to deposit in the general fund for McCreary County. For information on the occupational tax, including reporting forms and monthly tax collection summaries, you can visit tax.mccrearycounty.com online.

Those planning to enjoy Bandy Creek Group Camps in the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area will pay a little bit more this season for that privilege. Officials with the park have announced that the group camp rate for Bandy Creek will increase from the previous $75 per night to $100 per night for groups of up to 25 people. The fee for each additional person would remain at $3 per person per night. The new fee will go into effect May 1st but reservations already in place will be honored at the previous rate. Group camp reservations at Bandy Creek, in the Big South Fork, can be made by calling 1-877-444-6777 or online at www.recreation.gov. For more information on Bandy Creek or the Big South Fork, call 423-569-9778 or 423-286-7275 or visit www.nps.gov/biso.

For several years a Highway 27 cleanup has been held through McCreary County near the end of April. This year, members of the McCreary County 109 Solid Waste Board with the Judge Executive’s Office have mixed things up a bit to offer a countywide “clean sweep” cleanup weekend April 26th through Monday April 28th. Citizens can sign up in the McCreary County Judge Executive’s Office between Monday April 14th and Friday April 25th and will receive free garbage bags and information on cleanup their yard, roadway, or even their entire neighborhood that weekend. The filled bags will then be collected by the county for disposal on Monday April 28th. Only bags of trash will be collected, not bulk items or tires. Various non-profit groups in the county will also be out that weekend picking up trash along assigned roadways and will be paid $50 per mile for their group using litter abatement grant funds received by the county each year. Those taking part in the cleanup weekend are also invited to attend a free “movie in the park” event Saturday evening April 26th at 8:00pm at the McCreary County Park, which will also include free popcorn for those in attendance. For information or to register for the McCreary County Clean Sweep Cleanup Weekend, call the Judge Executive’s Office at 376-2413 or visit www.mccrearycounty.com.

The Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area is inviting local residents and visitors to take part in a wildflower hike this Saturday starting at 10:00am from the Leatherwood Ford gazebo on the Tennessee side of the park. The hike will be led by Big South Fork Botanist Marie Tackett and will include the Angel Falls Overlook Trail to the Fall Branch Bridge and will allow for discussion of wildflowers seen along the 1.8 mile hike. Participants are asked to wear sturdy walking shoes and come prepared for the weather. For information call the Bandy Creek Visitor Center at 423-286-7275.

McCreary County officials are planning for their own “Wildflower Discovery Weekend” May 2nd and 3rd. According to information from the McCreary County Tourism Office, the weekend event will include guided wildflower hikes as well as history walks. Preregistration is $5.00 per walk and can be done by visiting Wildflower.Eventzilla.net or by calling the tourism office at 606-376-3008. You can also find out more about the McCreary County “Wildflower Discovery Weekend” online at www.mccrearytourism.com.

Two McCreary County residents were arrested last week in Scott County, Tennessee on drug charges. The Scott County Sheriff’s Department reports stopping a vehicle in Winfield last Wednesday with officers finding two boxes of pseudoephedrine inside the vehicle. It is commonly used in the manufacture of meth. In addition, about one gram of cocaine, Oxycodone pills, Hydrocodone pills and needles containing liquid were all found inside the car. Arrested at the scene were 56 year old Charles Jones of Whitley City and 40 year old Mary Patrick of Parkers Lake. Both were charged with promoting the manufacture of meth, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of cocaine and possession of schedule II and schedule III controlled substances. The Scott County Sheriff’s Department is leading the investigation.

A McCreary County man accused last year of taking part in the abuse or neglect of an adult resident at Oakwood in Somerset has now entered a guilty plea in the case. 22 year old Coty King of Pine Knot was in Pulaski County Circuit Court Monday where he entered the guilty plea to two counts of abusing or neglecting an adult, a Class D felony. Somerset’s Commonwealth Journal reports that King’s plea follows guilty pleas by the other two individuals named in an indictment in the case, Cody Burton of Burnside and Timothy Ball of Pine Knot. All three were accused of provoking a mentally disabled adult in their care at Oakwood into hitting another resident in their care. This allegedly happened last September while the men were working at the facility in Somerset. The case was investigated by the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office and was solidified by video evidence of the incident reportedly captured on a cell phone. Prosecutors have recommended that Coty King be sentenced to two years in prison for each count to run consecutively for four years, but that the sentence be diverted for four years. That means King would be under supervised release for that period. Cody Burton was already sentenced to three years in the case, diverted for three years, while Timothy Ball was sentenced to two years, diverted for two years.

While all five candidates running for magistrate in district 1 were offered the opportunity to attend and take part in Monday night's debate on the Truth or Politics program, only two took the time to participate. Republicans Leroy "OL" Perry and Todd Hansford took the hour to answer questions, many of which were submitted by citizens. The next in the series of candidate debates will be Monday April 14th at 6:00pm at the McCreary County Senior Citizens Center for candidates running for magistrate in district 2. For more on the debates and their schedules you can visit www.truthorpolitics.info.

A reported crime spree took in at least three counties and resulted in the arrest of a Casey County man early Saturday morning. Authorities say 40 year old Randall Lawless was apprehended in Pulaski County after officers there received reports that he was at a residence with a stolen vehicle. Lawless attempted to flee when police arrived but got the vehicle stuck in mud in a field and eventually surrendered to sheriff’s deputies. He was charged in connection with a crime spree through Pulaski, Casey and Lincoln Counties with charges including receiving stolen property, possession of marijuana, and fleeing or evading police. Investigators say he is also a suspect in several other vehicle thefts in the region. Lawless was lodged in the Pulaski County Detention Center as the investigation continues.

Yet another scam warning has been issued for residents in the area, this time coming from officials at Highland Communications. According to the warning, issued by e-mail, some residents have been receiving calls claiming that access to the intended victim’s computer is needed to fix problems after the computer has been hacked. The caller has claimed to be from Highland Communications, but the company says they have not and will not make such calls. They say you should not allow access to your computer to anyone including Highland Communications unless you have initiated the request to do so. Also, never give out any personal information or respond to any unsolicited requests for information.

Those Kentuckians who did not enroll for health coverage using Kynect, the state’s healthcare exchange program, still have a few days left to do so. While the original deadline was set for March 31st to enroll, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear ordered an extended enrollment period which began last Friday and will continue through this Friday April 11th. Governor Beshear cited high demand for the action and said enrollment numbers had already reached more than 370,000 by the March 31st deadline. Those enrolling and selecting a plan by April 15th will have coverage beginning May 1st. For information on enrolling for health coverage through Kynect, call 1-855-4kynect or visit kynect.ky.gov.

Candidates running for District 1 Magistrate in McCreary County will have the chance to debate and inform voters about their plans if elected during the next in a series of debates on the Truth or Politics program. The debate will be held tonight (Monday April 7th) at 6:00pm prompt at the McCreary County Senior Citizens Center. Candidates are asked to arrive by 5:30pm to check in, while live audience members should be seated prior to the start of the program. The program will also air live on WHAY 98.3FM. For information and debate schedules you can visit www.truthorpolitics.info.

After giving Judge Executive Doug Stephens the authority to spend up to $5,000 on an inmate transport vehicle during their March regular session, the McCreary County Fiscal Court was presented Friday night with the option of purchasing two such vehicles for less than $5,000. Judge Stephens told the court during the regular April session Friday that the city of Knoxville, Tennessee had two law enforcement vehicles, already equipped with cages and lights, available for a total of $4,200. Both were said to be in sound mechanical condition. Judge Stephens told court members that the single transport vehicle currently used has been suffering from mechanical issues, adding that at times more than one vehicle may be needed for inmate transports. The court voted to move forward with the purchase of the two vehicles and also opted to look into the purchase of a transport van from Knoxville, which Judge Stephens said could be used for inmate transports as well as other county projects like work details.

The regular April session of the McCreary County Fiscal Court held Friday night included a fairly light agenda. In addition to dealing with inmate transport vehicles, the court acted on giving Tourism Director Tara Chaney permission to apply for a permit from the state to use Kentucky West Highway 92 and Kentucky Highway 1651 through Stearns for a 5k event to be held May 31st. Also on the agenda was amending the county administrative code to include an inclement weather policy, an agreement for the EMS billing company to accept credit and debit card payments for the county, approving road name changes, and approving a resolution in support of a grant application by the McCreary Heritage Foundation. The next regular meeting of the McCreary County Fiscal Court is scheduled for Friday May 9th at 7:00pm at the courthouse.

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear has ordered flags on all state buildings to be lowered to half staff today (Monday April 7th) in honor of a Kentucky soldier who died during the Korean War in the early 1950s, but whose remains were just recently identified. According to a press release from the Governor’s Office in Frankfort, Corporal William F. Day was listed as MIA (Missing In Action) on December 2, 1950 in Korea and was not heard from again. In September 1994, a number of boxes of remains were finally turned over to the US from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Some of the remains were reportedly identified as likely belonging to Corporal Day. With funeral services set for the soldier today in Barlow, Kentucky, Governor Steve Beshear ordered flags to half staff in his honor through sunset today (Monday April 7th).

The March session of the McCreary County Grand Jury was led by a case involving the alleged rape of an adult woman in January. The McCreary County Record reports that an indictment was returned on first degree rape and sodomy charges against Desmond Williams and Kevin Fitts, while Marshon Oliphant was charged with sodomy in the case. The incident reportedly happened January 10th. The case was presented to the grand jury by US Forest Service Officer Tim Grooms with all three suspects lodged in the Wayne County Jail under $100,000 cash bond. They are scheduled for arraignment on April 14th.

The McCreary County Grand Jury also returned an indictment last month against 33 year old Gabriel King on four counts of sodomy first degree related to an alleged incident involving a minor under age 12. 26 year old Justin Mowry and 45 year old Timothy Neal were also indicted for failing to comply with sex offender registration.

Other indictments included Christie Blevins for trafficking in a controlled substance, wanton endangerment and driving under the influence; Carrol D. Watters for manufacturing meth; Willie Messer for counts of possession of a controlled substance and driving under the influence; and Amanda Duncan for possession of a controlled substance and drug paraphernalia. The grand jury also returned true bills against Michael Clark for possession; Stephen Vaughn and Jimmy Douglas for theft; Carl Koger for theft; Chandra Rodriguez for receiving stolen property; Tyler Richmond for criminal possession of a forged instrument; and Chas Anderson for forgery, theft of identity, and falsifying business records. Listeners are reminded that indictments by the grand jury are a formal charge in a case but are not a finding of guilt.

The Grow McCreary project, part of the overall Grow Appalachia Program, is getting off to a good start according to most involved with the program. Some of the partners involved include McCreary County Tourism, McCreary County Community and Economic Development, the McCreary County Soil Conservation District, and others. Meetings and classes are being held, a farmer’s market is being planned to be located on Conservation District property in Stearns and, according to McCreary County Tourism Director, Tara Chaney, the program will be a feature of spring travel forum by the Kentucky Travel Industry Association. State tourism officials have reportedly said the Grow McCreary project has potential for tourism development. For more information on the program you can visit the Grow McCreary Facebook page or call the tourism office at 376-3008. In addition, Susan Stephens, McCreary County Community & Economic Development Director, is currently compiling a list of local farmers, producers and volunteers interested in the program and can call her office at 376-9711 or e-mail susan@mccrearycounty.com.

A group of local businesses will be hold a reception event for Jessica Burke, a Republican candidate for 52nd District State Representative, next Monday April 7th. According to information released by Burke’s campaign, the reception will be held at the Big South Fork Scenic Railway train depot in Stearns from 4:30 to 7:00pm with the public invited. Jessica Burke is a McCreary County native who is challenging Republican Ken Upchurch for the 52nd district seat in the Kentucky House in Frankfort. Burke has a campaign website at www.jessicaforkentucky.com. Upchurch was first elected to the seat in 1998 and re-elected each two years until opting not to run in 2010. He later regained the seat when Sara Beth Gregory, who succeeded him as State Representative, was elected to the Kentucky Senate. Upchurch and Burke will face off in the May 20th Republican primary to serve McCreary and Wayne Counties as well as a small portion of southern Pulaski County. No Democrats in that race.

After a major fire last November, the Knox-Whitley Animal Shelter is still working to rebuild and get back to a normal operation. Some major help in that effort is reportedly on its way with state coal severance funding being allocated to help rebuild the shelter. State Representative Regina Bunch reportedly led the charge to get approval for state funding for the group in the amount of $45,000 for the first year and an additional $10,000 the following year. Bunch told media sources she tries to direct that pot of funding to help non-profit organizations or public services in need. The operations of the Knox-Whitley Animal Shelter have a direct impact on McCreary County because the county is contracted with the facility for housing animals picked up locally by animal control. For information on the Knox-Whitley Animal Shelter you can visit their website at www.kwas.org or at www.facebook.com/knoxwhitleyanimalshelter.

This past Monday, March 31st, was the deadline for open enrollment through Kynect and the Affordable Care Act, sometimes referred to as “Obama-Care”. In Kentucky, more than 370,000 people enrolled from October 1st through March 31st, the enrollment period, including about 12,000 signing up on the final day. Individuals who started an application through Kynect by Monday’s deadline will have until April 15th to select a plan to get coverage started May 1st. Of the 370,829 Kentuckians who enrolled for new health coverage using Kynect, 293,000 qualified for Medicaid after the state expanded that program. About 77,000 have purchased private insurance and 85,000 qualified for subsidies to help purchase a health plan. In McCreary County, a total of 2493 residents used Kynect to get coverage including 256 under age 18, 458 in the 18-25 age range, 492 were between 26 and 34 years old, 482 were 35-44, 511 were between 45 and 54 and 294 were between ages 55 and 64. Numbers could still change slightly as final figures are compiled by the state over the next few weeks.

A former Somerset surgeon and Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital have reportedly been hit with a $10.6 million malpractice judgment in a civil case related to a woman’s death in 2010. Somerset’s Commonwealth Journal reports this week that Dr. John Husted and the hospital were found by a jury to have failed to exercise the care and skill expected in the case of 39 year old Pamela Dixon. She died January 13, 2010 after undergoing weight loss surgery in December of 2009 at the Somerset hospital and developed complications from the surgery and the care that followed. The judgment by the jury came in Pulaski Circuit Court more than a month after the civil trial began on February 10th. Judge Jeffrey Burdette reportedly still needs to sign off on the judgment but if that happens Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital, which was found by the jury to be 60% at fault in the case, would be responsible for just over $6 million in damages. Dr. Husted, who was found to be 40% at fault, would be responsible for just over $4 million. The Commonwealth Journal report indicates that he has declared bankruptcy since the lawsuit has been pending. An appeal may also be pending in the case according to a statement from Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital.

Just as Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital in Somerset is dealing with the malpractice judgment handed down, hospital staff and administrators are also dealing with a bad report issued by Consumer Reports for their May 2014 issue. The report uses data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to rank hospitals on their safety levels and puts the Somerset based facility as the fourth bottom scoring hospital in the nation with a score of 20 on a scale of 100. Hospital administrators released a statement blaming the bad report on incomplete information being submitted to Medicare meaning the government is unable to accurately determine the condition of the hospital’s patients. Essentially, in comments made by the hospital CEO to Somerset’s Commonwealth Journal, Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital says the medical care at the facility was not compromised but record keeping was. He adds that the inaccurate data was discovered late in 2011 and corrected but that it may take about two more years for the bad information to move out of the system. Information and a statement on the Consumer Reports issue is posted on the hospital’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/LakeCumberlandHospital.

Officials with the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area have announced plans for spring prescribed fires within the park over the next several weeks. Fire crews will be conducting a series of burns to carry out the park’s Fire Management Plan. According to the news release issued by the Big South Fork, fires will be contained to the Tennessee side of the park in the Mitchell Fields area off Duncan Hollow Road behind the Bandy Creek Campground, Cecil Stewart Fields and the Darrow Ridge project. During the burns some park roads and trails me be closed temporarily for safety. For more information on the fire schedule in the Big South Fork, call 423-286-7275 or 376-5073. The Daniel Boone National Forest also recently announced plans for prescribed burns within forest boundaries, including the Stearns District which includes McCreary County.

For the first time in many months, McCreary County moved out of the bottom ten in terms of Kentucky counties with the highest jobless rates. Even given that achievement, the unemployment rate locally was actually higher than the previous month moving from 14.55 in January to 15.3% in February. That was also up from 15.2% for February of last year. McCreary County did have the highest jobless rate in the ten county Lake Cumberland region, followed by Wayne County at 14.6%, Clinton at 13%, Cumberland at 12.4%, Russell at 11.5% and Pulaski at 10.5%, all in double digits. Counties just below the double digit mark included Adair, Casey, Green, and Taylor Counties. The overall jobless rate for Lake Cumberland was 11%, up from 9.8% in January. Kentucky’s unemployment rate was 9% in February, up from 8.3% a month earlier, while the US rate was 7%. The highest jobless rate in the state was listed at 20.4% in Jackson County, while the lowest was recorded in Boone County at just 6.7%. For more information on the labor market and unemployment data for Kentucky, you can visit kylmi.ky.gov online.

A new radio program will hit the airwaves beginning tonight (Tuesday April 1st) on WHAY 98.3FM. The “Happy Trails Outdoor Radio Show” will be hosted by John Teeters and will feature information and segments on various outdoor activities ranging from hunting and fishing, to gardening, hiking, rafting, ATV riding, and more. Guest interviews will be featured each week to bring the experience of those working in these fields directly to the listeners. Tune in for the “Happy Trails” show Tuesday evenings at 6:00pm and again Saturday mornings at 9:00am on WHAY and you can also find out more by visiting the “Happy Trails Outdoor Radio Show” page on Facebook. You can find a link to that page at www.hay98.com. Coming up on the very first program will be an interview with Niki Nicholas of the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, Extension agent Greg Whitis on hiking, and Larry King of the End of the Road Organic Farm here in McCreary County.

With so many days missed this school year due to weather and road conditions in McCreary County, school officials have taken action to deal with making up that missed time. The McCreary County Board of Education met this past Thursday and voted to approve a plan moving forward for the rest of this year. School Superintendent Arthur “Donnie” Wright confirmed to WHAY Radio that the plan includes adding thirty (30) minutes to the end of each school day beginning next Monday April 7th and continuing through May 28th. In addition, spring break was originally slated to be all this week, but students and staff will be in class today and tomorrow (Monday March 3st and Tuesday April 1st) and will begin spring break Wednesday, continuing through this weekend. State lawmakers approved a measure that allows school districts, after taking these types of steps to make up time missed, to dismiss class for students after June 6th even if all time is not made up by then. This puts Friday June 6th as the last day of school for students in many school districts in Kentucky, including McCreary County.

The Truth or Politics program will resume its series of candidate debates this evening (March 31st) with candidates for McCreary County Constable in districts 3 and 4. All candidates for that office are invited and encouraged to attend and answer basic questions, some of which have been submitted by local citizens. The program begins promptly at 6:00pm at the McCreary County Senior Citizens Center at the county park and is broadcast live on WHAY Radio. Candidates are asked to arrive by 5:30pm with audience members asked to be in their seats before the program’s start. For information or debate schedules, visit www.truthorpolitics.info.

Just as enrollment numbers have reportedly topped 350,000 in Kentucky, today (Monday March 31st) is the final day for open enrollment for health coverage through Kynect and through the federal Affordable Care Act. To date, according to information released by the state, more than 350,000 Kentuckians have enrolled using Kynect with nearly half of those being under age 35. 280,000 enrollees have qualified for Medicaid while about 70,000 have purchased insurance privately. About 80,000 individuals have been found to be eligible for subsidies to purchase insurance but had yet to select a plan. Officials remind citizens that are still uninsured as of this Tuesday April 1st that they could face a financial penalty of $95 or 1% of their income, whichever is greater. The penalty applies to each uninsured household members and could increase with each year you are uninsured. To find out more or get enrolled in health coverage, you can visit the Kynect website at kynect.ky.gov. You can also call 1-855-4kynect. That’s 1-855-459-6328 between 8:00am and 4:30pm eastern time.

The Whitley County Sheriff’s Department reports on a standoff that took place between a suspect and officers Wednesday afternoon on Davenport Lane in Williamsburg. Officers were called to scene because of reports that the resident was armed and was threatening to harm himself. The man refused to communicate with officers and barricaded himself inside the home. A standoff last for about two hours before officers finally entered the home and found the suspect unconscious. He was reportedly armed with a 12 gauge shotgun and a 40 caliber automatic pistol. The man was transported to Baptist Health Hospital in Corbin for treatment and investigators say charges are pending against the man.

With the spring season upon us, a lot of activities are underway or planned in McCreary County. Local Tourism Director Tara Chaney has provided a spring update from her office. To hear the complete update and find out more about tourism activities you can visit the McCreary County website at www.mccrearycounty.com.

The fire in late August of last year that resulted in the death of Whitley City Firefighter Arlie “Pooh” Hill has been ruled an arson fire by investigators. Hill and fellow firefighter Adam Stephens rushed into the burning home thinking someone may have still been inside. The men got trapped inside and suffered severe burns before they could be pulled free. Hill suffered the worst injuries and underwent about two months of treatments and surgeries before succumbing to those injuries at the age of 37. Investigators have not released additional information such as if there is a suspect in the case, but say the investigation is continuing. You can report information on suspect arson fires by calling 1-800-27-ARSON.

The McCreary County Sheriff’s Department reports arresting nine individuals on a variety of charges over the past week, ending Monday March 24th. Among the local arrests was Justin Murphy, age 24 of Airport Road, for warrants for failure to appear, non-payment of fines, violation of a court order and possession of marijuana. 51 year old William Gibson of Sherman Richmond Road was also arrested last week for a warrant for theft by deception while 22 year old Dylan Waters, from the same road, was arrested for non-payment of fines, drug paraphernalia and public intoxication later that same day. Officers arrested 51 year old Darrel Strunk of Murphy Ridge for alcohol intoxication, disorderly conduct, and resisting arrest; 24 year old Tim Crabtree of Bronston for non-payment of fines; 31 year old Hope Grundy of Lena Stephens Road for possession of a controlled substance; 26 year old Nancy Doran of Mose Musgrove Road for assault and theft; 36 year old Amanda Duncan of South Hwy 1651 for possession of a controlled substance and drug paraphernalia; and 29 year old Rodney Hamby of Holloway Cemetery Road for failure to appear and non-payment of fines. These arrests represent only those executed by the McCreary County Sheriff’s Department for the week ending March 24th and do not include local arrests by other law enforcement officers.

After we previously reported that the spring cleanup efforts in McCreary County may be on hold or at least in jeopardy, the McCreary County 109 Solid Waste Board met Tuesday evening to move the projects forward. While Deputy Judge Executive Andrew Powell said at the meeting that federal funding for the Eastern Kentucky PRIDE program, which normally spearheads much of the cleanup efforts across the region, is still in question, McCreary County can still move forward with its own cleanup efforts. Powell said the annual Cumberland Falls cleanup was likely not going to happen, but if it did it would likely be delayed at least until May when PRIDE may get its funding. The 109 Board discussed going ahead with a local cleanup effort in late April, the time the Highway 27 cleanup is generally done in McCreary County. Currently, plans include have a “McCreary County Community Clean Sweep Weekend” centered on Saturday April 26th. Powell explained that under the litter abatement program, which the county uses in part to pay non-profit groups $50 per mile to clean up roadways, these same groups can get out and clean up to ten miles each on that day while individuals wanting to get involved can also register to receive bags to do their own cleanup that day, or all that weekend. Plans are also being discussed to offer possible door prizes and some type of evening event, such as a cookout, for those who take part in the cleanup. Those plans are still being worked out by Powell and 109 Board members.

Another cleanup effort discussed Tuesday was the annual free bulk item drop off generally offered by the county, with funding from PRIDE, and in cooperation with Scott Solid Waste. While Deputy Judge Powell said the PRIDE funding is still up in the air for that project too, he recommended allocating up to about $2500 from solid waste funds from the county to help cover disposal costs for the project. Discussed was providing ten dumpsters to be filled that day on a first come, first served basis by local residents with bulk items. The date for the drop off was tentatively set for the third Saturday in May, but full details will be forthcoming. For information and to follow details on the spring cleanup efforts in McCreary County, watch the official county website www.mccrearycounty.com and keep listening to WHAY Radio.

The McCreary County School District is taking some action to make up days missed for weather and road conditions this past winter, even as state lawmakers wrestle to agree on a bill to allow school districts to potentially waive missed days. Locally, McCreary County Schools had originally been scheduled to be off all next week for Spring Break. That part of the school year calendar has reportedly been adjusted with Spring Break now including Wednesday April 2nd, Thursday April 3rd and Friday April 4th, followed by the regular weekend days, for a total of a five day weekend for Spring Break. Final decisions on other make up measures and the last day for students are still pending.

The investigation is ongoing into an incident Monday morning that killed a 19 year old college student in Pulaski County. Authorities say Korey Nicholls, who was reportedly staying with his grandparents near the area of Kentucky Highway 452 and Etna Lane in Science Hill, was hit by a train at about 5:30am. The Pulaski County Sheriff’s Department is investigating the incident and said posts on the teen’s Facebook page indicate he may have been acting intentionally, but are not ruling anything out as the investigation continues. Investigators are currently reviewing video taken from the train and are also awaiting autopsy results.

Cumberland Falls State Resort Park is planning for some upcoming events, including a Native American weekend slated for this weekend, Friday March 28th through Sunday March 30th. The event will include demonstrations and programs dedicated to the traditional culture and history of the Native American Indian. Events are scheduled throughout the weekend including on Saturday from 9:00am to 7:00pm. Cumberland Falls will also host a storytelling festival April 11th through 13th which will include stories about life in the Appalachian Foothills and various craft people demonstrating and displaying their hand crafted products. For more information on either event you can call the Cumberland Falls State Resort Park at 1-800-325-0063 or look up Cumberland Falls State Resort Park on Facebook.

According to a “One Call” system phone call made to parents Monday by McCreary County School Superintendent Arthur D. Wright, concerns erupted over rumors that a local student had brought a gun to school. According to information provided by Mr. Wright in that phone call, the student actually brought a wooden gun which he had made for a school project and at no time was a real gun involved. School officials said they were taking appropriate actions to deal with the situation, adding that there was no danger or threat related to the incident.

Playing politics is nothing new for lawmakers at the state and national levels, but it appears politics could be getting in the way of some important road projects moving forward. One such project is the long awaited completion of the Kentucky Highway 92 construction in the section along the county line between McCreary and Whitley Counties. The project is in the six year road plan for the state but funding the project may be another issue as the Kentucky House passed a two year budget plan that did not include the project. Another project on track for completion, if funded, is a turning lane into the McCreary Center Campus of Somerset Community College in Whitley City. The budget approved by the House, which is controlled by the Democrats, still needs approval in the Republican controlled Senate, which is likely to make its own changes to the spending bill.

An emergency food drive held this past Saturday for the local schools backpack food program was called a huge success by organizers. The event was sponsored in part by the Advance McCreary group with many local candidates for office also taking part and challenging each other to donate. The group says the food drive was such a success that it quickly surpassed their original goal for food donations and several additional loads of food had to be transported to a local fire department for storage. The backpack food program allows the local school resource centers to send backpacks of food home with children who are signed up for the program each week to ensure they have food for the weekend when not in school.

This year will mark the 13th annual Spring Planting Festival to be held in the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area. The event is planned for Saturday April 26th in the areas adjacent to the Bandy Creek Visitor Center and the Lora Blevins home place on the Tennessee side of the park. Demonstrations will be held on old timey toys, quilting, flint knapping, woodcarving, soap making, basket weaving, hand spinning yarn, and other activities at the Bandy Creek Visitor Center. Demonstrations at the Blevins home place will include blacksmithing, plowing with mule and horse teams, planting sorghum seed, and making wooden farming implements. The event will run from 9:00am to 4:00pm on Saturday April 26th and admission to the Spring Planting Festival is free of charge. For more information on the event you can call the Bandy Creek Visitor Center at 423-286-7275 or visit www.nps.gov/biso.

The McCreary County Sheriff’s Department is reportedly investigating a series of break-ins in recent weeks at storage facilities in the county. The McCreary County Voice reported this past week on the investigation and says that Sheriff Gus Skinner and his department have circulated a list of some of the items taken in the thefts to local and nearby pawn shops in hopes of locating some of the items and possibly the thieves responsible. Deputies are also increasing patrols in the areas around storage facilities and the department is asking anyone with information to contact them. Sheriff Skinner also asked that anyone with items in a storage facility check them on a regular basis and report any evidence of tampering. The cases remain under investigation by the McCreary County Sheriff’s Department.

Some citizens may be wondering what the status of the annual spring cleanup campaign is for this region. Generally around this time of year, the Eastern Kentucky PRIDE program sponsors the Cumberland Falls-Highway 90 Cleanup in McCreary and Whitley Counties to officially kick off the spring cleanup season. However, this year PRIDE has released no information about such a cleanup and instead issued a press release saying that PRIDE was not going to limit the cleanup to a few specific events and instead planned to continue the spring cleanup throughout the season. However, comments by McCreary County Deputy Judge Executive Andy Powell, as quoted by The McCreary County Voice, indicate changes may have more to do with funding limitations for entities, including local county governments. Powell told The Voice, for instance, that the free bulk item drop off can cost in excess of $4,000 and that money may just not be available to offer the program to local citizens this year. Powell was less forthcoming with information to WHAY Radio saying by e-mail simply that plans had not been finalized and would be discussed at this Tuesday’s 109 Solid Waste Board meeting at 6:00pm at the McCreary County Senior Citizens Center. Meanwhile, 109 Board members report having very little information on the issue themselves and are also awaiting the meeting to find out the status of the spring cleanup.

The McCreary County Park, and its new manager Melissa Vanover, will be hosting an “Easter in the Park” event for the community on Saturday April 19th from 12:00-3:00pm. The event will take place at the concession stand and ball fields of the county park and will include a community egg hunt, cookout, inflatables and pictures with the Easter Bunny. Melissa Vanover, who was recently hired by the county to manage the park and its office, is seeking help and donations for the event from individuals, churches, businesses and organizations. To find out more about the event or donate call Melissa Vanover at 376-7275, that’s 376-PARK, or e-mail melissa@mccrearycounty.com.

With spring also comes plans by the US Forest Service for controlled burning to help reduce the risk of wildfires and to improve wildlife habitat in the forest. According to officials with the Daniel Boone National Forest, burns are planned over the next several weeks in the Stearns and Redbird Districts of the forest to thin out leaf litter and wood debris along the forest floor. In each case, controlled burns are planned and attended by crews to manage the fires and are conducted when weather conditions, such as winds, allow for safe burning. The public is invited to contact the individual district offices of the Daniel Boone National Forest for details and schedules of controlled burns. The Stearns District office can be contacted by calling 606-376-5323 or stopping by on US Highway 27 just north of Whitley City.

McCreary County Candidates (May 20, 2014 - Primary Election): 




County Judge Executive 

Greg Burdine

Jimmie "Bevo" Greene

Douglas Stephens 


County Judge Executive 

Phillip "Brian" Hill

Scottie Morrow

Jimmy Waters


Kirk Coffey

Danny Lee Crabtree

Milford Creekmore, II

Gus Skinner 



John "Mike" Foster

Randy Waters

County Attorney 




County Attorney 

Conley Dale Chaney

Austin Price 

County Clerk 

Eric Haynes


County Clerk



Joe Horne

Frank Gowin

Jessie Hatfield

Anthony Joe Jones

Kenny C Kidd

Debra (Debbie) Moses

Jerry M Privett



Tony Ball

Derek L Jones

Harvey Meadows

Patricia "Trish" Meadows


Jennifer Adkins

Tim Corder

Daniel Ridener 



Teddy Coffey

Tammy Soard Helton


Bruce Lominac 



Joni Carson

Magistrate District #1 

Stan Cox

Todd Hansford

William Mike Jones

Leroy "O.L." Perry 


Magistrate District #1 

Pat Coffey

Magistrate District #2 

David Duncan

Tony Hansford

Greg Heath

Delmer Mathews

Roger Phillips 


Magistrate District #2

Jonathan Coffey

Magistrate District #3 

Jeff Bryant

Sondra Johnson

Jason Mann

Rosetta (Kilby) Waters 


Magistrate District #3 

David Murphy

Magistrate District #4 

Duston Baird

Jackie Braden

Randall "Picclo" Litton

Deborah "Debbie" Taylor

Jackie Wilson 


Magistrate District #4

Frankie Ball


Constable District #1 

Jamie Higginbotham

Dustin Ridner

Jeffrey Tucker



Constable District #1 

Bill Hayes

Constable District #2

Freddie Clark

Brad Waters



Constable District #2 

Joshua Strunk



Constable District #3 

Donald Daugherty

Jason Jones 


Constable District #3 

Tim Dixon

Raymond Prewitt

Constable District #4 

David Kilby

Jack Lay

Charles Lee Perry 


Constable District #4

Lewis Ball



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