Free Range Radio!

(Updated Thursday October 27, 2016 @ 10:10am)

McCreary County officials announced last Wednesday October 19th that a countywide burn ban was issued and would remain in effect until further notice. County leaders have now announced that an order has been issued rescinding the burn ban. While burning is now allowed in McCreary County, you should still observe the state's fall forest fire hazard season law which allows for outdoor burning only after 6:00pm or when sno covers the ground.

This month's McCreary Issues program on WHAY Radio focused much of the hour on the upcoming election on November 8th, including interviews with several local school board candidates. In addition, the program included an interview with Eric Haynes, McCreary County Clerk and the county's chief election official. During the interview, Haynes noted that absentee voting is underway now. Remember, the application deadline for mail-in absentee voting is next Tuesday November 1st with the actual ballot to be back in the county clerk's office on or before Election Day. Walk-in absentee voting for those who qualify is going on now through November 7th in the clerk's office.

Haynes also said that anyone who has moved should vote at the precinct polling location of their current address not necessarily where they have previously voted. Laws also dictate actions that are allowed and not allowed near polling places, often referred to as “electioneering”. Some voters wonder about whether they will be required to show picture ID to vote, to which Haynes said an ID or personal acquaintance with a poll worker is needed. Anyone who is unsure of their voter registration status can contact the McCreary County Clerk's office, and should do so before Election Day, to reduce any confusion among voters and election officials. You can also go online for voter information at www.mccrearycountyclerk.com or go to the Kentucky State Board of Elections website at elect.ky.gov.

The McCreary Issues program is also available by visiting the 'Issues” page at www.hay98.com and will air again this Saturday at 2:00pm on WHAY 98.3FM.

A Kentucky man is facing serious charges in Tennessee after he allegedly engaged in inappropriate sexual conduct involving at least two underage girls. A Scott County Grand Jury has returned an indictment including 34 felony counts against 21 year old Jonathan Wesley Bolin of Burnside including rape of a child, aggravated sexual battery, solicitation of a minor, trafficking for commercial sex acts with a child less than 15 years of age, sexual abuse of a child and attempted aggravated sexual battery. Investigators say the charges stem from allegations that Bolin engaged in the conduct with the girls over a period of time, perhaps starting when the girls were only nine years old in 2013. He was arrested last month, followed by the investigation that led to the indictment. Listeners are reminded that an indictment is a formal charge in a case but is not a finding of guilt.

After approving a new garbage disposal and management ordinance for McCreary County earlier this month, county leaders are not seeking proposals from garbage disposal companies for the franchise agreement, which is set to start January 1st. A public notice was published in The McCreary County Voice last week stating that companies are invited to submit proposals for the collection of trash and the operation of the solid waste collection service for all of McCreary County. The notice states that sealed bid proposals from companies should be submitted to the Judge-Executive's Office no later than 4:00pm Thursday November 10th to be opened and reviewed by Fiscal Court at their regular monthly meeting that same date at 6:00pm. The current franchise agreement with Scott Solid Waste, a Waste Connections Company, will expire at the end of the calendar year, at which time a new agreement must be in place for the county to ensure garbage disposal services. The new ordinance approved by county leaders sets guidelines for garbage disposal rates and also sets penalties for those who do not sign up for garbage collection or to deliver their trash to the transfer station in Stearns. The ordinance is available for review at the McCreary County Judge-Executive's Office.

Visitors to the Daniel Boone National Forest and its facilities will be asked to conduct a visitor survey over the next year. Forest officials say Eastern Kentucky University's Recreation and Park Administration students will be assisting with the surveys and will be conducting them at random at recreation areas and facilities in the forest. The survey is being used to determine recreational trends in the forest and to determine the interests of visitors to the forest. This comes five years after the last such visitor survey was conducted. Participants will be asked to identify their preferred recreational activities, how long they are staying in the forest, and how many people are with their party. More information about the survey project is available online at fs.fed.us/recreation/programs/nvum.

With exactly two weeks remaining until General Election Day on Tuesday November 8th, some candidates for McCreary County Board of Education this cycle responded to WHAY Radio's request to sit down for interviews ahead of the election. Incumbent school board member Nelda Gilreath is running unopposed in her district, and thus was not included in the interview series. Candidates in the other two districts up for grabs this year were invited through letters mailed to each, Facebook posts and a news story on WHAY, to take part in the interviews which will air in full during tonight's “McCreary Issues” program from 6:00-7:00pm on WHAY 98.3FM. Answering the call to answer questions were James Kiser, Belinda Wilson and Kevin Taylor from the 5th education division which includes the precincts of North Whitley, Wiborg, Cumberland Falls, Eagle, Mill Creek and Pigeon. In the 3rd educational division, Dustin Stephens answered questions for the voters in the precincts of Stearns, Smithtown and Cooperative. Nelda Gilreath's district includes East Pine Knot and Bethel. The other two seats on the school board will not be up for election again until 2018. Questions asked of candidates taking part included their thoughts on necessary qualities for a school superintendent, comments on the school district budget and the setting of property and motor vehicle taxes, which takes place each year for the school board. Again, the full interviews with those school board candidates will air this evening (Tuesday October 25th) from 6:00-7:00pm on the “McCreary Issues” program here on WHAY Radio.

The McCreary County Tourist Commission recently rented a billboard space owned by the North McCreary Fire Department just off Highway 27 in the Wiborg area, and had installed a “Just Hang Out” billboard at that location to promotion the various tourism activities in the region. However, those driving by the area in recent days may have noticed that the billboard is no longer up. According to social media posts, the heavy vinyl sign used for the billboard was apparently stolen. Anyone with information related to the theft or the location of the sign and related materials is being asked to contact McCreary County Tourism officials or can contact the McCreary County Judge-Executive's Office.

This week is “Red Ribbon Week” at McCreary Central High School with each day having a different type of anti-drug message for students. Monday was “wear red” day to say no to drugs, while today (Tuesday) is “Hunting for a Drug Free Life” day, with students urged to wear camouflage clothing. On Wednesday, the high school will celebrate a superhero day with the theme “We Save the Day When We Say No To Drugs.” This Thursday will be 'Put on Your Thinking Cap and Say No To Drugs Day” when students can wear their favorite hat. To wrap up the week on Friday, the school will “Scare Drugs Away” by asking students to dress as their favorite monster, while not allowing any clown costumes or dress up. Again, this week's “red ribbon” activities are geared toward urging students to say no to drugs at McCreary Central High School.

Last week we reported on a body found over an embankment off West Highway 92 in Stearns.
The McCreary County Voice reported that the identity of that body was confirmed by authorities as 39 year old Herman Stephens. Investigators said they believe Stephens fell over the cliff and suffered injuries, including leg fractures and eventually succumbed to those injuries. His body was likely at the bottom of the embankment for several days before being found. A memorial service was held for Stephens this past Friday at the Winfield City Park.

The McCreary County Board of Education will meet in special session this evening replacing their regular October meeting. The session begins at 6:30pm at the school board central office in Stearns and is open to the public. The meeting will include the regular monthly school reports, routine business, creating eight student tutor positions, and a number of other items on the agenda. The next meetings for the school board will be a special meeting on Tuesday November 15
th at 6:30pm and the regular meeting just two days later on Thursday November 17trh at 6:30pm. Those will come after the November 8th General Election with the makeup of the board for the next two years set at that time.

The McCreary Central Raiders football team picked up win number seven (7) Friday night on the road at Thomas Walker, Virginia. The final tally was the Raiders 41, Thomas Walker 13, as the Raiders improve to 7-2 on the season, with only one game remaining. The last time the Raiders hit the seven win mark was in 2009 when they ended with a final record of 7-4. They have a chance to beat that milestone with a win this Friday October 28
th at home against Harlan. That game will kickoff at 7:30pm.

The McCreary County Chamber of Commerce held its annual meeting and banquet last Thursday, including the presentation of their awards in various categories. Among the award recipients were Larry's Mini Mart as “Business of the Year”; Sandra Cundiff from Kroger as “Business Person of the Year”; Terry Baker and Wanda Howard Monroe as “Co-Citizens of the Year”; Page Hatfield Bryant as “Educator of the Year”; Lyndsey Pennington as “Student of the Year”; and Roger Owens receiving the “President's Award.” Other awards presented include the “Lifetime Achievement Award” for the late Oscar Hamilton and a special award to Ken Upchurch for his work over several years with the Leadership McCreary program. The Big South Fork National River and Recreation area also received special recognition for 25 years of public service to McCreary County and the McCreary County Public Library received recognition for 40 years of public service. The annual banquet last week for the McCreary County Chamber of Commerce also included comments from Kentucky Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton.

The “Truth or Politics” current affairs program hosted weekly on Monday evenings will continue its series of once-a-month community call in shows this evening (October 24th). The program, hosted by Darlene Price, will air live on WHAY Radio starting at 6:00pm, coming from the radio station studio with a guest panel and the community asked to call in on issues important to them. Calls will be taken from 6:00-7:00pm by calling the station at (606)376-2218. “Truth or Politics” plans to host a call in show once a month.

You may or may not know that Kentucky's US Senator who is seeking re-election this year paid a visit to McCreary County this week. Rand Paul was reportedly in the county on Wednesday for what was called a “roundtable discussion” at a Pine Knot restaurant. There was little public notice prior to the visit, including no media notification of the visit, at least none received by this radio station. Senator Paul is facing a challenge in the November 8
th General Election from Democratic Lexington Mayor Jim Gray.

A Kentucky man who was shot by a police officer in Oneida, Tennessee back in August is now officially facing charges following the handing down of a grand jury indictment this week. 30 year old Shannon O'Regan was reportedly involved in a domestic dispute in the parking lot of Wal-Mart in Oneida that August day when officers arrived on scene. Those officers reported that the suspect pointed a gun in their direction, prompting officers to fire and strike O'Regan once. The grand jury in Scott County this week returned the indictment, formally charging him with aggravated assault and drug possession charges. He reportedly turned himself in and at last report was being held under $25,000 bond.

A Whitley County woman was indicted this week on murder charges, along with other offenses, in connection with a traffic crash in July. Killed in that wreck were Teresa Ward and Joshua Bennett, after a car driven by Sonia Askins crashed into their vehicle. Askins reportedly admitted to police that she had taken a shot of moonshine, plus had taken Oxycodone, morphine and other prescription medications before the crash. Listeners are reminded that an indictment by a grand jury is a formal charge in a case, but is not a finding of guilt.

After no increase in payments for Social Security recipients and federal retirees for 2016, it has been announced that millions of Americans will see an increase in monthly payments in 2017. The federal government announced that the cost of living adjustment (“COLA”) will result in a .3% increase in payments starting next year. While many want to either give credit or blame the President for the amount paid out in Social Security and federal retirement payments, under federal law the cost of living adjustment is actually set based on a government measure of consumer prices and inflation. The adjustment will reportedly impact about 70 million Americans, roughly 1 in 5 citizens. The money will not amount to a major increase, about $4 a month for the average Social Security payment, but will at least represent some form of increase in 2017. Some are pushing for an increase in Social Security benefits, especially for older Americans, including Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders who campaigned on that issue, among others, in his recent run for President. Since that time, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton has also signed on to the idea of expanding federal benefits. She says her plan calls for paying for the increase by raising taxes on weaothy Americans making more than $250,000 per year. Republican Donald Trump has actually broken from many others in the GOP by stating he would not cut benefits, although political experts say he has offered no solid plans on the issue and has not said he favored increasing benefits.

Authorities say a major wildlife erupted late Tuesday in neighboring Scott County, Tennessee, impacting about 175 acres just south of the Big South Fork park. The fire was large enough that it sent a significant amount of smoke in all directions, including north into McCreary County, causing many local residents to wonder Wednesday morning what was happening. Officials say all nine fire departments in Scott County worked to contain and battle the blaze, along with at least three from their neighbor to the south, Morgan County. Residents near the fire were evacuated for several hours before being allowed to return home. Even once the fire departments left the scene, the Tennessee Division of Forestry kept personnel in the area of Scott County to monitor the fire.

Following a crash on the 914 Bypass near Somerset Tuesday afternoon, a truck driver was reportedly trapped inside the wreckage for several hours as crews worked to free him. Authorities report that the crash involved a tractor trailer that overturned on a ramp between the 914 Bypass and the Cumberland Parkway. The driver, once freed, was airlifted from the scene to the hospital for treatment of what were called “serious” injuries. Police are still investigating to determine the cause of the crash.

In the wake of natural disasters, it is common to see fundraising efforts to help those impacted by the tragedy. Unfortunately, it is also becoming common place to see scams from people trying to take advantage of the situation. That is apparently what is happening following Hurricane Matthew that recently devastated areas on the east coast of the United States and caused even more destruction and loss of life in areas Haiti. Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear is warning residents of the state to watch out for scams like claims from what are fake charities saying they are collecting donations for the victims. Some scam artists are falsely identifying themselves as representatives of legitimate charities in an attempt to scam a victim out of money. The best way to avoid being scammed, according to Beshear, is to verify the charity before donating and always be cautious about any social media requests for donations. Also remember that when asked, a solicitor must tell you what percentage of your donation would actually go to the relief effort. To report a concern about a charitable solicitation, the Attorney General's Office says to call them at 1-888-432-9257 or file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.

With so much talk recently about clowns, some local events in McCreary County are hoping people will forget about clowns and think about zombies this Halloween season. The Big South Fork Scenic Railway is hosting its first ever “Zombie Train” this Saturday October 22nd with seats still available. Dress up in your best zombie costume and enjoy a family friendly train excursion that will depart the train depot in Stearns at 7:00pm. For information or tickets you can call the railway at 376-5330 or 1-800-462-5664 or go online to www.bsfsry.com. You can also look up Big South Fork Scenic Railway on Facebook for this Saturday's “Zombie Train.”

The annual “Zombie Walk & Halloween Parade” in McCreary County will also be coming up on Friday October 28th at the McCreary County Park Senior Citizens' Building. Vendors and activities will begin at 6:00pm with the zombie walk starting at 7:00pm. It is free to attend and to participate in the zombie walk, but you should sign in by 6:30pm. There will also be live music and other activities at the event Friday October 28th at the county park. For information call Melissa at the park at 376-7275.

It is a problem that all businesses should be aware of and have to deal with on a regular basis. The problem is the circulation of counterfeit currency. The Whitley County Sheriff's Department has reported this week that a surge in the passing of phony money has been seen, especially involving $100 bills that actually made it through without being identified by specially designed markers that are supposed to reveal these fakes. Authorities are still working to determine how the bills made it through without being detected. They ask all individuals and especially businesses to be vigilant and watch all bills carefully. Report incidents of counterfeit currency to law enforcement immediately.

The Scott County, Tennessee Sheriff's Department responded to a tip last week after a witness said a trio of suspects tried to sell items to customers at a convenience store in the Helenwood area. Officers were able to locate the suspect vehicle and after stopping the vehicle found a small amount of marijuana, pipes, marijuana grinder and rolling papers inside. Officers also found chainsaws and equipment with reports that as much as $25,000 worth of equipment had been stolen from a company located in Pulaski County, Kentucky. The three suspects were arrested and were identified as Ryan Sellers, Justin Foley and Cody Clark, all of whom reportedly listed Kentucky addresses. All were charged and are facing additional charges in Pulaski County, as the investigation continues across county and state lines.

While not the same as having a full time, or even part time, tourism director, the McCreary County Tourist Commission will now at least have some help in carrying out tourism planning and promotion of the county. Meeting in regular session last week, the McCreary County Fiscal Court approved the hiring of Christy Andrea Hill as a part time tourism administrative assistant at a pay rate of $10 per hour for up to 24 hours per week, which is the maximum allowed for a part time county employee. Reports indicated that three applicants were interviewed for the position with the tourist commission recommending Hill for the post. There was no word at the court meeting as to when Hill would assume the duties, but it was expected she would begin work as soon as administrative code requirements were met, which includes a background check and drug screening.

Next weekend the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area will be offering assistance to those who want to visit remote cemeteries in the park area. Many cemeteries in the region are not easily accessible and the park offers help to families who may want to get to those areas to cleanup or decorate graves in those cemeteries. The offer of assistance is extended for Friday October 28th and Saturday October 29th with assistance offered on a first come, first served basis. For information you can contact Effie Houston with the Big South Fork park at 423-569-9778 by this Friday October 21st. The park also plans to offer similar cemetery visit assistance next spring.

Kentucky State Police have reported the discovery of a man's lifeless body in a wooded area off Highway 92 west of Stearns in McCreary County on Sunday. The initial call came from an individual who found the body and first contact the McCreary County Sheriff's Department, with the state police then getting involved in the investigation. The body was found over a 40 foot embankment and authorities say at this time foul play is not suspected in the case, although the investigation is ongoing to determine identity and exact cause and date of death. Kentucky State Police are leading the investigation with assistance at the scene from the McCreary County Sheriff's Department, Coroner's Office and the Whitley City Fire Department.

Meeting in regular session last Thursday, the McCreary County Fiscal Court voted to approve the second reading, giving final passage, to a new garbage disposal ordinance for the county. Before voting by a 3-2 margin in favor of the move, the court discussed the ordinance with Magistrate Duston Baird asking Judge Executive Doug Stephens point blank if it included the word “mandatory.” Judge Stephens responded that it did not include that word but that it “implies mandatory” with the penalties in place for non-compliance. However, the prior ordinance also including penalties for not complying but has never been enforced with any regularity. The ordinance increases the amount that can be fined for non-compliance and also lowers the rates for disposal in the county. For example, the regular residential rate for household trash collection is currently $15 monthly, but would drop to $10 per month under the new ordinance. Magistrate Roger Phillips continued to question whether a disposal company will actually submit a proposal with those new lower rates, especially with no guarantee that the county is going to enforce compliance. County Attorney Conley Chaney made the point that if it is enforced, the participation rate for garbage pickup service will go up and a company could make more money even with a lower rate, but Chaney added that it depends on a company having an assurance that it will be enforced. County officials said if no company submits a proposal matching the rates listed in the ordinance, they will have to back and make changes and possibly negotiate for a deal for garbage disposal.

Another issue discussed was the elimination of the $1 per bag disposal, which has been in place several years. Judge Stephens said very few people take advantage of the program and added that it is being replaced with an option that allows a resident to pay $60 in advance for the entire year to deliver their trash to the transfer station. That would break down to $5 per month with the limit on bags to dispose being six bags per week, which is the same as the pickup limit. That breaks down further to less than 20 cents per bag for disposal if a customer disposes of the full limit each week under that program. Magistrate Roger Phillips again questioned how the county can expect any company to agree to accept the franchise agreement under those terms.

The court did vote to approve the new garbage ordinance by a 3-2 vote, with Magistrates Roger Phillips and OL Perry voting against approval. The next step is to solicit proposal from garbage disposal companies for the franchise agreement. The current agreement with Scott Solid Waste will expire at the end of this calendar year.

After tabling and rebidding, the project to light a baseball field at the McCreary County Park is now moving forward after county leaders approved a bid last week on the project. The county received three bids with the cost ranging from the low bid of $41,800 to a high bid of $42,500, only a $700 between the three. Options were also tagged on for preparing for a second field, but the county had already determined that based on available park funding only one field can be completed at this time. Following discussion, Magistrate Roger Phillips moved to go with the low bid after commenting that it seems all three bids offer the same in terms of installation and the guaranteed life of the actual light bulbs. The motion passed and the project can now move forward with the field to be lit up by next spring. That, according to county leaders, park board members and Little League officials, will allow for the hosting of tournaments in addition to night games for the local Little League Association.

The court also voted to accept bids recommended by the park board for additional work including the installation of basketball courts, fencing and bleachers at the county park.

Last month, the McCreary County Fiscal Court took its first step toward a tax on restaurant purchases in the county, and this month took another step forward on the issue. During the court's regular session Thursday evening, members were asked to approve the first reading of Ordinance 210.3, which would levy a restaurant tax countywide. Judge-Executive Doug Stephens said the ordinance would impact all “fixed and mobile businesses preparing or serving ready to eat foods.” That, according to Stephens, would include any mobile vendors setting up on the side of the road, parking lots or at special events, as well as established restaurants, grocery store delis, convenient stores serving food like burgers or pizza and coffee shops that serve foods ready to eat. It would not include school cafeterias, vending machines and church or non-profit operations. The tax, if given final approval, would be a 3% tax on food purchases from such businesses, as covered by the county ordinance. The court voted along the same lines as they did on the issue last month, with Judge Stephens and Magistrates Jason Mann and Duston Baird voting in favor of the tax, and Magistrates OL Perry and Roger Phillips voting against approval.

Later in the meeting, during “Citizen Participation”, Vicki Kidd addressed the court saying she was not necessarily against a restaurant tax, if the county had solid plans on the use of the money and could essentially show the benefit as it pertains to the local tourism industry at the stage it is currently. State law does require restaurant tax funds to be used for tourism or conventions, although Judge Stephens left the use of funds vague stating some communities have used the money to enhance parks, and infrastructure deemed essential for tourism and economic development. While state law also specifically states that “all monies collected from the tax...shall be turned over to the tourist and convention commission..”, Judge Stephens indicated that is not how McCreary County would handle its collection and use of the tax. He said, even when questioned further, that the funds would be deposited in the county's “Tourism and Economic Development” fund and would be directly overseen by fiscal court. That is something that appears to be in direct conflict with state law, under KRS 91A.400. Judge Stephens also addressed the legal question of whether a county government can even impose a restaurant tax, something that is not authorized under state law. He said in some cases in the past, the county has been allowed to act as a Fifth Class city, since it has no incorporated city. County leaders seem to be using that as a blanket approval to act as a city in all cases including the restaurant tax. Judge Stephens said they had spoken with several attorneys and none had said definitively that the county could not impose the tax. When questioned on whether any attorney had definitely said the county could do it, Judge Stephens said “no”.

Citizen Vicki Kidd also questioned if any real planning had been done to determine how much funding would be realized from the tax and if any planning had been done on how to actually spend the money. County leaders offered no such planning results.

The restaurant tax ordinance will now have to be approved through a second reading, which could come at the court's November session.

The McCreary Mountain Craft Center on Highway 90 is gearing up for its second annual “Crafters' Blast” event this coming weekend. It starts on Friday October 21st and runs through Sunday October 23rd with craft demonstrations, music, refreshments and more each day from 10:00am to 5:00pm. On Saturday October 22nd, the craft center will offer funnel cakes to buy along with other food items. A Genealogical Workshop will also be held at the craft center on Saturday October 22nd co-sponsored by the McCreary County Historical and Genealogical Society. For information on this coming weekend's event, call the craft center at 376-3463 or look them up on Facebook. The McCreary Mountain Craft Center is located 7 miles east of Parkers Lake and 4 ½ miles west of Cumberland Falls on Highway 90.

A rumor has apparently been circulating locally that Halloween (Trick-or-Treating) observances in McCreary County would be canceled in light of recent clown activity and concerns. However, county officials have confirmed that Trick-or-Treating hours have been set for Monday October 31st, Halloween evening, from 6:00-8:00pm and those observances will go on as scheduled in McCreary County. That word came from McCreary County Emergency Management Director Rudy Young, through the Judge Executive's Office.

The Whitley County Sheriff's Department confirmed that a fugitive from Ohio was captured Monday after he was stopped while walking along US Highway 25. A deputy was responding to a report of suspicious activity when he spotted the individual walking in the area and stopped to investigate. A check with the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) found that the individual, identified as 31 year old Jason Johnson of Jellico, was actually wanted in Ohio for a sex offender registration violation. Johnson was arrested and was lodged in the Whitley County Detention Center awaiting extradition back to Ohio to face the charges.

Kentucky State Police posts across the state will be taking part in the annual “Drug Take Back” program next Saturday October 22nd starting at 10:00am. The event allows those with old, unwanted or outdated prescription medications to dispose of them in a safe manner. Not accepted are items like IV solutions, injectables or syringes and any illegal drugs like marijuana and methamphetamine. Post 11 in London will hold its “take back” event at the Laurel County Health Department, which is at 52 Whitley Street in London. Kentucky State Police say since this program, which is also sponsored by the US Drug Enforcement Administration, began in 2010, about 10,000 pounds of prescription drugs have been turned in.

A crew on one of McCreary County's ambulances has an eventful evening Tuesday night as they reportedly delivered a baby in the ambulance, giving new meaning to the phrase “baby on board.” According to a post on the McCreary County Ambulance Service Facebook page, a call came in at about 10:00pm Tuesday of a mother to be possibly in labor. The ambulance picked the woman up and proceeded to the hospital in Somerset, but on the way the baby decided not to wait any longer and made its way into the world. The post states that the birth actually occurred at about 10:30pm in the Burnside area while the ambulance was still heading toward the hospital. The ambulance service reported that as of Wednesday morning, the mother and the baby boy were both doing well at the hospital. The post states that this is something that is not seen often by ambulance service crews, but with no hospital in county, the service has to be trained and prepared for just about any occurrence of a medical nature.

Law enforcement officials in Scott County, Tennessee have reported a sting operation that resulted in a trio of drug related arrests last week. 34 year old Dustin Griffith of Helenwood, Tennessee, 45 year old Christopher Strunk of Oneida, and Tesia Wilson age 29 of Kentucky were all arrested and charged with criminal conspiracy to possess a controlled substance. Strunk was additionally charged with possession of a schedule II controlled substance, specifically morphine, for the purpose of resale. The investigation was conducted by officers with the Scott County Sheriff's Department and the Oneida Police Department using a confidential informant to provide information and assist in planning for the sting and the arrest. The case remains under investigation.

This has been a week of recalls ranging from products like ice cream and “Lunchables” to phones. Samsung announced that amid reports of phones catching fire and exploding, the new Galaxy Note 7 phone will no longer be produced. The company had first recalled the phones and announced replacements for the original phones, but then reports started surfacing of replacement models also having issues. Turkey Hill announced it was recalling some of its ice cream after some mislabeling of packages including its Dutch Chocolate Premium and Rocky Road ice cream. Company officials said there were no health concerns, other than potential allergy issues. In addition, Blue Bell Creameries announced this week the recall of its ice cream products containing cookie dough from an Iowa based supplier. Additional information and additional recalls can be found on the US Consumer Product Safety Commission's website at www.cpsc.gov.

The McCreary County EMS/Ambulance Service has gone digital, according to reports. The service recently switched its communication across radio channels to a digital format to ensure better audio quality as well as an increase in the range of the signals to help communicate from the more rugged and outlying areas of the county. The change reportedly came about thanks to grant funding secured by the service, under the leadership of Director Jimmy Barnett. McCreary County EMS has also been able to obtain grant funding in recent years to provide for the replacement of ambulances, as well as other equipment such as power stretchers and life saving units. Barnett also oversees the county's 911 service, which utilized grant funding to upgrade its equipment in able to put E-911, or “enhanced” 911 in place. This allows dispatchers to pinpoint the location of a caller on a map screen even if the caller is unable to communicate directions, and to relay the information to the appropriate first responders.

A 15 person committee that advises the US Forest Service, Daniel Boone National Forest, is in need of additional members to meet their member requirements. The Daniel Boone Resource Advisory Committee helps review proposed projects and recommend funding allocations for projects in the forest. The committee will help determine the use of Title II funding which is currently set aside for the counties of McCreary, Leslie, Laurel, Jackson, and Rockcastle within the forest. The committee seeks members from various fields and areas of interest with an application process underway now to fill the open seats on the committee. Applications include information for background checks and membership interest and must be submitted no later than October 28th to be considered. Forms and information are available online at fs.usda.gov/dbnf. You can also contact Tim Reed, Stearns District Chief Ranger at 606-376-5323 for information.

We have all seen the commercials with representatives from “Publishers' Clearinghouse” knocking on someone's door to offer them a grand prize or a large ceremonial check. Some scam artists are taking advantage of the allure of winning a big prize as they target potential victims. Local residents have reported getting phone calls from someone claiming to be with the prize awarding agency saying the victim has won a prize and that to claim the prize they must go to the bank and get a money order to send in to cover processing fees. Law enforcement officials have repeatedly reminded residents that no legitimate company or lottery will require you to pay any fee to claim a prize. If you are asked to send money or give any account information over the phone to such a caller, do not comply. Other scams reportedly heavily recently include the IRS scam, where callers claim to be from the IRS needed payment for back taxes, as well as scams involving people claiming to be computer technicians asking for access to your computer to fix a PC problem or rid the computer of viruses. Remember, these are scams and you should never give personal or account information, send money or give access to your computer to anyone, especially if you have not initiated the contact.

For the first time since 2009, the McCreary Central Raider football team has guaranteed themselves a winning season, after picking up a win Friday night over Fort Knox by a final score of 47-8. That brings the Raiders record to 6-2 on the season, with two games remaining, meaning that regardless of the outcome of those two games, the Raiders are secured a winning season. The last winning season on record for the school in football action was 2009 when the Raiders went 7-4 on the season overall. The Raiders will next travel to Thomas Walker, Virginia for a game on October 21st followed by a final home game on October 28th as they host Harlan. The Raiders are being led this year by first season head coach Lucas Ford.

Meanwhile, the Lady Raiders soccer squad is in action this evening as they host the 47th district tournament. Tonight's game will out McCreary Central against Pulaski County at 5:30pm, followed by Somerset taking on Casey County. The championship match will be Tuesday evening at 6:00pm.

With official word coming this week from federal officials that Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin has been granted his request to dismantle the Kynect system for getting health coverage for state residents, there may seem to be a time of uncertainty for Kentuckians health coverage. Bevin promised while running for office last year that he would close out the Kynect program, and is now following through on that campaign promise. What that means for those Kentuckians who use the state's exchange to get their health coverage is that they will now have to start using the federal exchange instead, as of November 1
st. Residents of the state “shopping” for health coverage after that date will need to go to www.healthcare.gov and then select “Kentucky” under the state selection box to begin the process of getting new coverage or renewing coverage. This will be instead of going to the Kynect website they have become used to using. Bevin says the move will save the state money moving forward.

This should not be confused with Governor Bevin's plan to make changes to the state's Medicaid program, a proposal that is currently still in the public comment period at the federal level through this Saturday October 8th. After that negotiations could begin between the state and federal officials on changes to the program, especially impacting those who began receiving Medicaid coverage through Kentucky's expansion of that program.

The McCreary County Board of Elections, led by the county's chief election officer, County Clerk Eric Haynes, met Tuesday (October 4th) to inspect all voting machines ahead of the General Election, which is now less than five weeks away on Tuesday November 8th. Election officials remind residents who are not yet registered to vote that next Tuesday October 11th is the last day to register and still be eligible to vote on November 8th. Registration books will be closed following that deadline until after the election. Absentee voting will also be getting underway in the coming weeks, both through mail-in ballots and walk-in voting at the county clerk's office. Polls will be open for traditional voting on Tuesday November 8th from 6:00am to 6:00pm at all regular precinct voting locations in McCreary County.

The ballot for all McCreary County voters will include a choice for US President with candidates including Republican Donald Trump, Democrat Hillary Clinton, Libertarian Gary Johnson, Reform Party candidate “Rocky” Roque De La Fuente, Green Party candidate Jill Stein, and Independent Evan McMullin, along with each candidate's respective running mate. In the race for US Senate, choices include Republican Rand Paul and Democrat Jim Gray, while the race for US Representative includes only the name of Republican Hal Rogers. Ken Upchurch is also running unopposed for another term as State Representative for this district. Local races include soil and water conservation district, where voters can vote for four candidates, as there are four open seats. However, only three candidates filed to run and will appear on the ballot, including Bradley Coffey, Jr., Anthony Trammell, and Coby Stephens. School board races include Nelda Gilreath running unopposed in the 1st educational division, including the precincts of East Pine Knot and Bethel; Casey Daugherty, and Dustin Stephens running in the 3rd division including Stearns, Smithtown and Cooperative; and in the 5th division candidates include James Kiser, Debbie Gibson, Belinda Wilson and Kevin Taylor. That division includes North Whitley, Wiborg, Cumberland Falls, Eagle, Mill Creek and Pigeon. The remaining two educational districts will be up for grabs in the 2018 election cycle.

For more information on the upcoming election or voter eligibility, contact the McCreary County Clerk's Office at 376-2411 or visit www.mccrearycountyclerk.com. You can also go inline to http://elect.ky.gov.

McCreary County property owners should have received, or should be receiving in the coming days, their 2016 property tax bills. Those bills are payable at the McCreary County Sheriff's Department and can be paid now through November 1
st with a 2% discount off face amount. Starting November 2nd, bills can be paid at face amount through the end of the year, after which the bills will include a 5% penalty through the end of January. After January, the bills will include a 21% penalty for those who still have not paid. Property tax bills can be paid at the McCreary County Sheriff's Department, in the courthouse annex building in Whitley City, during regular office hours during the week. In addition, the sheriff's office will be open Saturdays from 9:00am to 12:00pm through the month of October. Tax bills can also be looked up online by using the “property tax” link online at

After the Kentucky Department of Education issued their assessment results for the McCreary County School District, and districts across the state, last week, local Superintendent Mike Cash issued a statement regarding the 2015-2016 test results. In the statement, Cash focuses on the achievement of McCreary Central High School being classified as a “Distinguished” school and Pine Knot Primary School being recognized as a “Distinguished School of Distinction.” He also noted that the school district as a whole was recognized as “Proficient” for the second consecutive year and expressed his gratitude to the staff, students and parents of the district for making that milestone possible.

The statement from Superintendent Cash goes on to point out some of the main findings of the assessment including the positive results as well as some areas needing improvement in the district. It was noted, as we previously reported, that McCreary Middle, Pine Knot Intermediate and Whitley City Elementary were all listed in the category of “needs improvement”, but that combined the three schools only missed the “proficient” mark by 6.1 points. Cash says that the goal of the local school district is to be classified as “Distinguished” by the time the next assessment results come out next fall, saying that some “tweaks” are being made to help in that effort.

Those who have children set to enter kindergarten next school year will want to make note of a change in the birthday cut off date beginning in 2017. State education officials say that the current cut off which allows children who turn 5 years old by October 1st to enter kindergarten, will be moved up two months to August 1st. That means that traditional students will have to turn five prior to August 1st in 2017 to enter kindergarten. However, officials say some children with advanced academic and social skills may qualify to enter even if they do not turn five until as late as October 31st. That determination will reportedly be made by local schools and be considered through an early enrollment application process. Those with questions about enrollment eligibility or changes should contact their local school for information.

After closing earlier this year, the hospital in Oneida, Tennessee could reopen within a few months, according to sources close to the effort. The Knoxville News Sentinel reported last week that Pioneer Health Services is working through negotiations to sell the facility as parts of its bankruptcy proceedings. If the deal is closed, a new owner could potentially look to reopen the hospital by the end of the year, although full details are still to be worked out. Sources say Lifebrite Hospital Group is currently the front-runner to potentially purchase the hospital facility. Pioneer reopened the hospital after it first closed a few years ago, but then had to to close the doors again this year after the company filed bankruptcy.

The Kentucky Fall Forest Fire Hazard Season officially began this past Saturday October 1st, and will run through December 15th. During this time, it is illegal to burn outdoors within 150 feet of any woodland or brushland until after 6:00pm, which covers nearly all areas in McCreary County with so much forest land surrounding the area. Burning may only be done after 6:00pm and those burning should be aware of weather conditions including wind speeds and directions. The Kentucky Division of Forestry also reminds that all fires should be attended until fully extinguished. Those who may need to burn leaves or other debris such as brush or limbs should only burn after 6:00pm, according to state law, during the forest fire hazard season to cut down on the risk of fires spreading. Residents planning to burn should also check with local officials for any additional restrictions or burning bans that may be in effect, and call the Division of Air Quality at (502) 782-6592 to learn about other restrictions.

Each year, the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) releases “report cards” for each county, school district and individual schools based on a number of factors. The scores reported for schools are based on things like test scores, student safety, awards, parent involvement and more. The KDE released the “report cards” for the state's schools for 2015-2016 this week including scores for the McCreary County School District and each of the local schools.

The overall district score for last school year was 67.9, which was down slightly from the previous year which was 72.2, but was still listed in the “proficient” category for the district. The best individual school outcome was recorded for McCreary Central High School where the overall score improved from 70.3 in 2014-2015 to 77.1 last school year, putting the high school in the “distinguished” level. Pine Knot Primary School was listed as “distinguished” and “progressing” with a score of 82.4, up from 72.0 the previous year. Other local schools reported declining scores including McCreary Middle which dropped from 64.7 to 62.0, Whitley City Elementary which dropped from 69.7 to 66.1 and Pine Knot Intermediate which dropped from 81.7 to 66.1. All of those schools were in the “needs improvement” category, according to the latest school “report cards” released by the state department of education.

For full details or to look up reports for individual schools you can visit the Kentucky Department of Education website at www.education.ky.gov and then click on the “School Report Cards” section.

Among the 19 indicted this month (September) by the McCreary County Grand Jury were an escapee, who has yet to be captured according to reports, and an accused child abuser. The grand jury returned indictments on a variety of charges, including against Jimmy Troxell of Parkers Lake for escape charges after he reportedly fled from transport/security officers while being transported with a group of other inmates from a van into the McCreary County Courthouse in August. Troxell, who was handcuffed at the time, fled the area and has evaded capture for more than a month.

Dustin D. Ridner of Parkers Lake was indicted on charges of criminal abuse first degree for allegedly intentionally abusing a three year old child by throwing him down and causing substantial injuries, according to the indictment.

Other September indictments included Alexander West for burglary first degree and assault fourth degree for domestic and Newton Loudermilk for criminal mischief for damage to two vehicles and a front porch of a residence. Loudermilk was also charged with driving on a suspended license and for DUI.

Drug indictments were handed down against Raymond King, Jr. and Joey Ellis, while charges in cases related to thefts or burglaries included Rhonda King, Jason Laxton, Reuben West, Heather Crusey, Corey Gregory, Codie Creekmore, Dustion Brown, Jonathan Thomas, James Mason, Cassandra Perry and Dillard Thomas. Additional indictments included charges against Paul Jamison for intimidating a witness, Roseanne Baird for intimidating a participant in a legal process, and Tony Ridner for a variety of offenses including kidnapping, wanton endangerment, criminal mischief and assault.

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.

Voters in nearby Monticello in Wayne County headed to the polls this past Tuesday (September 27th) to vote on whether to legalize alcohol sales within the city limits. The unofficial tally reported on by Wayne County media sources indicates that voters rejected the measure by a 232 vote margin, with 876 voting “no” and 644 voting “yes” to alcohol sales. The special referendum vote was called after petitions were collected and turned in a few weeks ago by those pushing for legalized sales, but, at least for now, Monticello and all of Wayne County will remain dry.

The McCreary County Ambulance Service was notified this week that they were selected as one of 112 recipients of a total of $2.7 million in Homeland Security grants awarded in Kentucky. The announcement came through the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security and states that recipients are located in 74 different counties across the state. McCreary County will receive a grant for $20,800 to be used by the local ambulance service to replace two manual stretchers with power stretchers. According to Jimmy Barnett, McCreary County EMS/911 Director, the service is working to replace all manual stretchers with power models to avoid potential back injuries by EMTs and paramedics to make their life saving work a little easier.

A McCreary County woman was arrested in connection with a weekend stabbing and has been charged with first degree assault. Reports coming from the McCreary County Sheriff's Department indicate that Miranda Allen was arrested after she allegedly stabbed Jamie Lynch in the neck early Saturday morning. The victim was taken to UK Medical Center in Lexington where she was expected to make a full recovery. Allen was taken into custody as the investigation into the incident continues.

A new app for electronic devices has been launched by the McCreary County School District to help parents, students and staff stay up to date on what is going on with the local district. The McCreary County Voice reports that the app is available for Android devices through Google and for Apple products through the Apple store and is available as a free download for devices. Once the app is downloaded, a search can be done for the McCreary County School District to connect and be able to get updates. When news items and calendar items are updated on the school district website, those updates are also sent to mobile devices through the app. The school district website is also available at www.mccreary.k12.ky.us.

If compared to the same month one year ago, McCreary County's unemployment rate has improved slightly for August 2016. The rate came in at 7.3% last month, down from 7.7% in August 2015 and also down from 8.4% in July of this year. McCreary County still had the second highest jobless rate in the ten county Lake Cumberland area, ahead of only Russell County which came in at 7.7% last month. The lowest jobless rate in the region was in Green County where only 4.4% were recorded as unemployed. The overall ten county area had a jobless rate of 5.5%, down from 6.7% in August last year. Kentucky's statewide unemployment rate was slightly improved from 5% last year to 4.8% in August this year. That is right in line with a 5% jobless rate recorded nationwide. For more information on Kentucky's unemployment numbers or labor market, visit kylmi.ky.gov.

The Big South Fork Park has announced winners from their second annual photo contest held this year. Locally, Larry (LD) Coffey of Stearns saw his photograph of Blue Heron selected as winner in the “cultural” category, with other winners selected from areas around McCreary County including Corbin, Kentucky, and areas to the south in Tennessee. The 'Kentucky Landscapes” category was won with a photograph of Yahoo Falls taken by Tom Wood of McMinnville, Tennessee. Winners were announced and displayed during a reception held earlier this month at the Bandy Creek Visitor Center in Tennessee. The third annual photo contest has already been announced by park officials who say photographs in the various categories can be taken in the park now through the submission deadline, which will be July 21, 2017. For more information on the contest call the park at 423-286-7275.

McCreary County property owners will begin receiving their 2016 property tax bills in the coming days or weeks, after school district and county leaders met late last week to formally set the tax rates for the year. Now, the McCreary County PVA's office will finalize tax bills and print them, so the local sheriff's office can stuff envelopes and get them in the mail. Once received by property owners, the tax bills can be paid at a 2% discount at the sheriff's office.

The McCreary County Board of Education took up the tax rate issue during their regular meeting last Thursday night. First up for discussion was the motor vehicle tax rate, which had previously been set at 30 cents per $100 of assessed value. Superintendent Mike Cash, backed by school district finance officers, showed board members a comparison of the local district's rate compared to other area counties and school districts. With McCreary County's school motor vehicle tax rate at 30 cents, most others were at 50 cents or higher. Cash explained that the state had advised that the local board could raise that rate up to 16.7 cents, to bring it to 46.7 cents per $100, still below most neighboring school districts. That, according to finance staff, could generate an additional $114,000 of revenue for the McCreary County School District annually, if all taxes are collected. Board members Roxanne Shook and Nelda Gilreath voted against the proposed tax hike, but all other members were in favor, meaning the motor vehicle tax rate was increased from 30 cents to 46.7 cents per $100 by a 3-2 vote.

In discussion on the property tax rate for the school district, Superintendent Cash recommended the board take the compensating rate for the year, which ensures the district will receive the same revenue as the previous year without a tax increase. In actuality, the school district property tax rate dropped from 41.9 cents to 41.6 cents on real and tangible property. That recommendation was approved unanimously by the school board Thursday night.

That led to a special session of the McCreary County Fiscal Court Friday morning, with Magistrates Roger Phillips and Duston Baird and Judge-Executive Doug Stephens in attendance. In a single motion, the court accepted the tax rate from the various special districts and set the tax rate for the county. The county took the compensating rate on real and motor vehicle and watercraft, avoiding a tax increase for the county on property tax bills. The other districts also kept their rates the same, except the library which dropped from 7.7 cents to 7.6 cents per $100. The tax rates were approved by the fiscal court and were to be sent to the PVA's office for tax bill preparation.

While flu season in Kentucky normally starts from late October to November and runs through the following spring, state health officials say an early start to the flu season could be seen this year. There have already been a few confirmed cases of influenza in Kentucky this year and officials are urging people to think about getting their flu vaccinations early this season. Many different categories of individuals are included in the recommendation to get a flu shot, including children age 6 months to 59 months; women who are or will be pregnant; persons age 50 and older; people with chronic health problems or extreme obesity; those residing in or working in nursing homes or long term care facilities; health care workers; caregivers; and those who may come in regular contact with people at high risk of the flu. Beginning in October, state health officials will report weekly flu activity levels to the Centers for Disease Control. Updates and information on the flu in Kentucky can be found online at healthalerts.ky.gov.

After being convicted this past summer on charges related to the sending of text messages to a student, allegedly aimed at getting the student to engage in sexual activity, a former McCreary Central High School teacher and coach will now be getting a new trial. The McCreary County Voice reports on a hearing that took place last week before Circuit Judge Dan Ballou in which the defense was seeking a new trial because of claims that at least two jury members were familiar with Toby Curry and the claims against him. The jury members were reportedly former students of Curry's, but the past relationships were not disclosed during jury selection for the trial earlier this year. Based on that information, Judge Ballou ruled that a new trial was in order and defense attorneys noted they would also be seeking a change of venue for that new trial. A date and location for the new proceedings have not been set, according to The Voice.

Better late than never. After being called out in August by Magistrate Roger Phillips for not publishing a list of delinquent revolving loan accounts in July, as the McCreary County Fiscal Court had ordered earlier this year, Judge-Executive Doug Stephens has finally followed through with the action. The McCreary County Voice classifieds section this past week did include a list of six individuals and business names that are reportedly delinquent in paying back the revolving loans they received from the county over the course of the past 11 years. The oldest account recorded belonged to Bethel Mower Repair Shop, owned by Bobby K. Jones, with a $5,000 loan taken out originally and a balance of more than $3,000 still on the books. In 2006, Jack Winchester took out a loan for $5,000 and still owes more than $4,000 of that balance. Marcum's Pressure Washing, owned by David Marcum, also took out a loan in 2006 for $21,000 and still owes more than $20,500 on that loan. Strunk's Engines, owned by Dale Strunk, accepted a loan for $25,000 in 2012, and still owes nearly $22,000; Sugar High Cakes and Confections, owned by Crescent Kidd, owes more than $22,500 on a $25,000 loan taken out in 2012; and M & L Mini Mart, owned by William Michael Jones, still owes well over $39,000 of a total $40,000 loan taken out in 2013. The notice published in the local newspaper indicates that the McCreary County Fiscal Court is in the process of taking action to pursue collections on the delinquent loan payments. The revolving loan program was established to help local, small businesses in obtaining loans, where conventional loans may not be possible, with the goal of expanding their businesses and creating jobs.

This summer provided valuable experience for eight McCreary County high school students, while they provided much needed labor on a number of projects, in the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area. The park announced that the students worked as part of the Youth Conservation Corps and worked on projects including the complete rehabilitation of the canoe launch at Blue Heron, as well as construction and repairs on trail bridges throughout the Kentucky side of the Big South Fork and along the Sheltowee Trace National Trail. Members of the local crew included Hailey Anderson, Molly Grundy, Donovan Lay, Brittany Meadows, James Parman, Nathan Prosser, David Sampson, and Keela Stephens, all of whom are students at McCreary Central High School.

13 year old boy in Wayne County is being called a hero after he reportedly saved two men from possibly drowning this weekend. Media sources cite a Facebook post from the Wayne County Sheriff's Department which says that the boy pulled Deputy Ethan Jones and another man from the water. One witness told sources that the second victim was actually the teen's own father. The post says the deputy had to go to the Wayne County Hospital for observation, but officials say both victims are expected to recover, thanks to the teen.

The McCreary County Cooperative Extension Service has announced that a new Family and Consumer Science and 4-H Youth Development Extension Agent has been hired to work with the local community. According to an e-mail release from Greg Whitis, the McCreary County Extension Agent for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Amy Fugate has accepted the position and begins her duties with the local office today. The extension office is hosting a meet and greet event this evening (Monday September 19th) from 4:00-6:00pm to give community members a chance to meet Amy and learn more about her new role with the office.

The McCreary County Coroner's Office reports that a car with a body inside was found by fishermen in the Big South Fork River in northern McCreary County late Wednesday. The body was sent to the State Medical Examiner's Office for positive identification, but Coroner Tim Corder did say it appeared the body had been there several months. The investigation is continuing.
(Update: The body discovered was identified as that of 30 year old Gurnie Lee Watson who had been the subject of a missing persons search for several months.)

The issue of having no local jail, which many have called a “crisis” for county government, continues to plague local officials and continue to be a topic of discussion and debate at McCreary County Fiscal Court meetings each month. While there appears to have been no real movement on dealing with the issue since Judge Executive Doug Stephens proposed an insurance tax to help build a new jail in July, county leaders did discuss the issue of inmate housing again this month, but with no new solutions mentioned. County Attorney Conley Chaney told court members that an issue that has now arisen is orders by the courts releasing inmates when they appear before a judge. Many local inmates are currently being housed in Leslie County, which is more than ninety (90) miles away, and have to be transported back to McCreary County for court appearances. Inmates that are released by a judge in court, are then taken back to Leslie County where they are signed out of the jail but are then stranded in the far away county. Chaney said the county is having to transport those individuals back to McCreary County again to release at the local sheriff's office. That adds up to additional transports and additional expense for the county, but Chaney said doing so helps the relationship with Leslie County, which is apparently one of a very few counties actually accepting McCreary County inmates right now. He added that it also helps the inmates and their families and is something that the District and Circuit Courts are ordering.

Chaney also said that Leslie County has presented details of a program which allows inmates to work at the jail to ear good credits which can be used to cut time off their sentence. He said that adds incentive for the inmate to act right and helps cut the cost of the county having to house those inmates. That seems to be the one positive in what continues to be a major issue facing county government, with no real movement toward solving that issue.

The results of a recent study on remediation efforts of selected contaminated mine drainage sites in McCreary County have been released. The Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area contains more than 100 abandoned mine openings, according to information released by the park, which are part of historic coal operations in the region. These abandoned mines can produce waste rock, open portals and contaminated mine drainage at times, which can be hazardous to human safety and the environment. The park service conducted the study of the mines in McCreary County, on the Kentucky side of the park, to determine the impact of mine remediation efforts on the park and its environment. The study, according to park officials, shows a finding of “No Significant Impact” to park resources as a result of proposed remediation. Those seeking additional information on the study and the efforts can call park headquarters at 423-569-9778.

McCreary County leaders complied with a request from Norfolk-Southern Railroad in voting this month to move ahead with the closure of a railroad crossing in Pine Knot. Judge Executive Doug Stephens explained during last week's meeting of the McCreary County Fiscal Court, that the railroad wanted to close one of two crossings that go from Highway 1651, old Highway 27, across to Century Lane in Pine Knot. He said the southern crossing is at an unusual angle and that there have been a number of incidents and accidents at those crossings through the years. It was also noted that the railroad was offering the county $35,000 to complete improvements to the road and the other crossing, if the closure is approved. The court approved the move and said that signs and signals will be installed at the crossings in the coming weeks.

Very serious charges were filed against a Kentucky man in Tennessee last week. Authorities in Scott County say 21 year old Jonathan Wesley Bolin of Burnside was jailed there on charges of two counts of rape of a child less than 13 years old, aggravated sexual battery, and attempted aggravated rape. The allegations stem from an investigation by police about Bolin having inappropriate sexual contact with a 12 year old girl in August. Other accusations came to light including sexual contact with a victim as young as 10 years of age. Bolin was lodged in the Scott County Jail without bond as the investigation and the case proceed.

The September meeting of the McCreary County Fiscal Court included several items on the agenda dealing with road issues locally. One such issue was the question of the county accepting the road into the Edgewood Acres subdivision in Pine Knot into the county road inventory. The area, which was privately owned by the late Katherine Strunk and was being developed into a residential area with several homes on site, includes a road going from Highway 27 into the subdivision. The court was asked by Judge Executive Doug Stephens to place the road in county inventory, meaning the county would take on maintenance of the road. Usually county leaders approve such requests when they have a deed offered to the county for the road plus rights of way on each side, plus the condition that the road be in good condition and ready to maintain. When questioned about the road, McCreary County Road Supervisor said that the road would need work, including ditching and grading, before it could be accepted into the county inventory. Magistrate Roger Phillips noted the county could not do that, so it would be up to the Forest Service, which owns the road, to bring it up to condition standards. Another point of discussion was the fact that no deed was available, but that the Forest Service is willing to offer a long term lease. The court did agree to move forward with the issue, pending work being completed and all legalities being met.

Another road issue this month was designating Club House Road in Stearns as a “one way” traffic flow road. That would go from Butler Drive to the Golf Course, according to Magistrate Jason Mann, who asked the court to approve the move. This was in order to deal with increased traffic around the Stearns Golf Course. The move was approved by the court.

County leaders also discussed a request from the school district to make a section of road from Shady Acres to Batter Road as “one way” to accommodate school bus traffic in Pine Knot. Questions were raised about whether the area could be designated as “one way” just during bus entrance and exit times.

The court also voted to start the process of removing Eugene Strunk Road and Claude Hill Road from the county road inventory. This can only be done when all property owners on the road are in agreement. The road must be posted and advertised with public comment accepted before the final closure is completed.

If you own and are using one of the new Galaxy Note 7 Smart Phones from Samsung, your life could actually be in danger. The company announced a recall last week of the product, saying there have been reports of the phones catching fire due to faulty lithium batteries used in the product. The recall came just two weeks after the phones were released. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission is urging with these new Galaxy Note 7 Smart Phones to keep them turned off, do not attempt charging them, and return them as soon as possible. Some airlines even asked travelers not to use or charge the phones while flying or to store them in checked baggage.

After voting 3-2 last month to move in the direction of “mandatory” garbage collection by updating the county ordinance with that wording, the McCreary County Fiscal Court took up the issue again during their September meeting last week. This time, the court was asked to approve the first reading of Ordinance 830.5 dealing with garbage disposal. Judge Executive Doug Stephens told court members, and those in attendance, that the ordinance still does not actually include the word “mandatory” but does include penalties for those not complying with proper disposal methods. The ordinance calls for two approved disposal methods, curb side pickup and delivery of garbage to the transfer station, just as the current ordinance states. One difference is that the ordinance calls for the collection rate to drop from the current $15 per month to $10 per month. It also eliminates the $1 per bag program which has been in place for several years. Instead, it offers those who deliver their garbage to the transfer station the option of paying an annual fee of $60. With that, they would not be limited to one bag per week but would be able to bring six bags per week, which is the same current limit on bags picked up. All of that, of course, depends on finding a garbage disposal company willing to accept the county's franchise agreement on those terms. That agreement expires with Scott Solid Waste at the end of this calendar year and advertising for proposals from companies will be done in the coming months by county leaders. There was little to no discussion on how the penalties on the ordinance would be enforced by the county. If enforced, the ordinance would essentially make for “mandatory” garbage collection, just without using the word “mandatory.” Magistrate “O.L” Perry was not fooled by the verbage game when he questioned the penalty portion of the ordinance. He had voted against moving toward mandatory garbage collection last month, saying there are many in the county who struggle and could not afford the added burden. He, and Magistrate Roger Phillips, voted against the new garbage ordinance, but Magistrates Jason Mann and Duston Baird were joined by Judge Stephens in voting in favor of the change. That was the first reading of the ordinance, which will now be followed by a period for public comment and then a second reading, possibly at the October regular session.

If you are pleased with the way county government uses your tax dollars, county leaders would like you to offer up a little more to their treasury. The issue of a restaurant tax in McCreary County was raised during last Thursday evening's regular meeting of the Fiscal Court. In the “other business” portion of the agenda, Magistrate Jason Mann said with such a tight county budget, additional money is needed to help fund certain areas, such as tourism and economic development. He made a motion that the court adopt a restaurant tax ordinance, placing a 3% tax on all restaurant purchases within the county. By state law, funds from such a tax must go to tourism and “economic development,” although what exactly qualifies as economic development is unclear. At least one county leaders has previously said that he was told that economic development was “pretty much whatever fiscal court says it is.” In fact, at the August court meeting, one line of discussion led to talk of using a restaurant tax to fund garbage disposal, since at least one company cited garbage issues as a reason for not locating in McCreary County. The discussion Thursday night did not include any clear plan for spending the money, although Mann did say the county could employ a full time economic development and tourism director with part of the funding. Mann said in discussion that the county has to do something and if people don't like the tax he is proposing, they can just vote him out in the next election.

Magistrate Duston Baird seconded the motion, which is probably not surprising since he had been discussing the possibility of a restaurant tax since the early days of his term last year. Magistrate Roger Phillips said he does not trust the current administration enough to know that the money will actually go where it should, referring to Judge Executive Doug Stephens' administration. Phillips pointed to examples like park collections, which he said are not going back to the park as they should, as well as money spent on the reservoir recreation area project. Phillips said the court was led to believe that any funds expended on that project would be tourism/economic development funds, and that in reality funds had been used out of other county funds for work done at the site.

In the end, the court split on the vote for a restaurant tax, but the 3-2 margin was enough to move the measure forward. Judge Stephens joined Mann and Baird in voting in favor of the tax, while Magistrates Phillips and Leroy “O.L” Perry voted against the move. The issue now moves to the process of drafting an ordinance which must still pass a first and second reading before going into effect. Mann indicated he felt, based on previous numbers given, about $300,000 could be realized annually from the new tax.

The issue of setting tax rates for 2016 to be printed on property tax bills did come up during last week's meeting of the McCreary County Fiscal Court. While county leaders did have some of the local taxing districts' tax rates in hand, others had not yet been received. It was noted that all local fire districts planned to stick with their current rate of 10 cents on each $100 of property value, which is the maximum rate allowed by law. The library presented its tax rate, which will be down slightly from last year at 7.6 cents per $100, compared to 7.7 cents last year. That is on real and personal property. The motor vehicle tax rate from the library stays the same at 7.58 cents. The health department also reported its tax rate would remain unchanged. One delay in setting tax rates was the school district rate. The local school board held a public forum meeting this past Friday on the issue, but it was only for the purpose of gathering public input on a possible tax rate increase. The rate will not actually be set by the school board until their September 22nd regular meeting. The McCreary County Fiscal Court will hold a special session at 11:00am Friday September 23rd to officially set and accept all tax rates, which will then allow for the printing and mailing of tax bills by around October 1st.

The body discovered in a Wayne County cave this week has been identified as that of 32 year old Dustin Lair of Monticello. Lair had been missing since Memorial Day Weekend, just over three months ago. A cause of death has not yet been determined, but the investigation is continuing by Monticello Police and the Wayne County Coroner's Office.

Despite a number of warnings being issued and major coverage by media outlets in the past, reports are still coming in of people falling victim to an IRS phone scam. The latest warning comes from Highland Telephone Cooperative, saying that victims have been contacted by phone by someone claiming to be with the IRS Tax Audit Department. The caller says that the victim owes back taxes and that a lawsuit is pending and that they must call back to settle the issue immediately for local law enforcement will be notified. The IRS warns that this is a scam and they offer tips on their website on how to tell if such a call is a scam. Visit www.irs.gov and type “scam” in the search box to get more information on dealing with such scams.

There appears to be a fair amount of tension these days between county leaders, including those who are elected and those who are appointed. We have reported previously on the verbal smack down offered by Magistrate Roger Phillips against Judge-Executive Doug Stephens on more than one occasion in open fiscal court sessions. Last week, an appointed member of the McCreary County Tourist Commission took aim at county leadership in general with a lengthy post on social media. This came just as that same tourist commission member reportedly submitted her resignation from that court appointed board.

The post came from Suzie Strunk Thompson on Facebook August 30th at 11:14pm, after she had apparently been visited earlier that day by one of the local, elected leaders to whom she addressed her criticism in the post. While never mentioning the leader by name, she emphasized her clear displeasure with the job performance of the official by putting quotation marks around the word “leader” each time she referenced the individual. Thompson said in the post that this official approached her for advice on dealing with an issue in county government, while still making sure he could get re-elected. The post goes on to offer the opinion that “...none of our local leaders should even consider re-election at this point.” She goes on to state that nothing proactive seems to be coming from fiscal court and that court sessions appear to be a “mere power struggle every single month.”

Thompson goes on in the post to point out several issues on which she feels county leadership has essentially failed, including raises for county employees, the local jail, economic development, and tourism. The post also points out the fact that local magistrates are paid a salary nearing the $20,000 per year mark while, in Thompson's opinion, all they do is “...show up for a couple of hours each month to bicker and fuss...”.

Again, sources indicate that Suzie Thompson submitted her resignation from the tourist commission around the same time she posted this rebuke of county leadership.

We do have a link to read the entire post from Thompson by clicking here.

The McCreary County Fiscal Court is scheduled to meet again in regular session this Thursday September 8th at 6:00pm.

The McCreary County Sheriff's Department has released activity data for the calendar year of 2015 and through the end of July in 2016, according to The McCreary County Voice. The data shows that last year, the department, led by Sheriff Randy Waters, answered 11,508 calls and made 832 arrests in the twelve month period. Through seven months this year, the department answered 4,209 calls and made 564 arrests. That represents a significant decrease in calls but a slight increase in the number of arrests being made. According to Sheriff Waters, the main reasons for this are more work going into active investigations which lead to arrest warrants, including many in drug related cases. He added that some focus is being paid to getting repeat offenders off the streets and that cooperation with other law enforcement agencies is aiding in those efforts. Sheriff Waters continues to supplement his small paid staff with a number of special, volunteer deputies who help with arrests and serving warrants.

Kentucky State Police report that a train hit and killed two young men in Whitley County early Tuesday morning. It happened at about 2:00am near Highway 26 in the Rockholds area, between Williamsburg and Corbin, but police say they are still investigating exactly how it happened. The bodies of the two deceased were sent to the State Medical Examiner's Office for autopsy.

While full details of the incident were not immediately available, a press release issued by McCreary County Schools Superintendent Mike Cash cites confirmation by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife that a local student died Friday night. The release states that the 16 year old was an 11th grade student at McCreary Central High School, but does not give further details about the student or how they died. Superintendent Cash says that schools will be in session on a regular schedule, but adds that grief counselors will be on hand at the high school for any students or faculty in need of those services for as long as needed. He adds that a moment of silence will be observe district-wide at 9:00am Tuesday September 6th in honor of the student.

The Whitley County Sheriff's Department reports that an elderly woman was arrested Friday afternoon after they say she fired shots at a home near the Rockholds community. After investigating the initial report, deputies located and arrested 71 year old Julia Miller, charging her with first degree wanton endangerment. Officers say it appears the woman fired several shots from her vehicle toward the home. Police say they did find a Ruger 22 caliber pistol in Miller's vehicle, with five bullet casings from that gun. No injuries were reported from the shooting. Miller was lodged in the Whitley County Detention Center and the investigation is continuing.

After previously being convicted in the case involving accusations of texting an underage student with the intentions of having a sexual relationship with her, a former McCreary Central High School teacher and coach may now get a new trial. The McCreary County Voice reports on a hearing in the matter last week before Circuit Judge Dan Ballou, in which the defense claimed they should get a new trial because some jury members may have been students of Toby Curry's at the high school. The possible relationship between the former students turned jury members and Curry was not apparently revealed at the time of the original trial this summer. The prosecution argued that the defense should have noted the relationships at the time and should not be allowed to ask for a new trial after conviction. Judge Ballou indicated, according to The Voice reporting, that if the jury members were in fact former students of Curry's, he may be entitled to a new trial and possibly even a change of venue. No definite ruling was made as the court awaits transcripts from the high school to show if the jury members were in fact students of the defendants. A hearing has been set for September 13th to possibly rule on the issue. Curry was accused and eventually convicted of texting an underage female student, allegedly in hopes of having a sexual relationship with the girl while he served as a teacher and coach at the local high school.

In an update to the report we brought you Thursday on McCreary County's “Heritage Trail Days”,
The McCreary County Voice is reporting this week that the parade and other downtown festival activities have been cut from the lineup for 2016. After McCreary County Tourism took over and replaced McCrearyFest with Heritage Trail Days, one selling point of the change was the combination of local, traditional festival events like the parade and downtown music, vendors and children's festivities, with outdoor events like trail races, hikes and canoe races. The Voice reports that local tourism officials this year have decided to eliminate the traditional festival activities and focus only on the outdoor activities, hoping to attract tourists for the first full weekend in October. This would put McCreary County with no parade as it currently stands, after tourism also opted against doing a Christmas parade as of last year.

Highland Telephone Cooperative has announced, through an e-mail to their customers, that they continue receiving reports of scams in the area. One of the most recent scams involves the intended victim being contacted by someone claiming to be from Microsoft Support and saying that the victim's is infected by a virus. The caller claims that for a payment they can rid the computer of the virus and they ask for payment information. Highland warns that this is a scam and you should never give personal, account or payment information to anyone or allow them access to your computer if you are not familiar with them or have not initiated the contact.

McCreary County was one of only two counties out of ten in the Lake Cumberland area to record a higher unemployment rate between June and July of this year. The July numbers were just released by state officials and show that McCreary County had a rate of 8.4% unemployed, up from 8% the previous month. The good news for the county is that the rate was down slightly from one year ago, when the July 2015 rate was 8.7%. The other regional county to record a higher rate last month was Casey County, which went from 4.7% to 4.8%. The overall unemployment rate for the ten county Lake Cumberland district was at 6% in July, down from 6.3% in June and also down from 7.6% in July last year. The Kentucky jobless rate for July was 5.2%, down from 5.4% in June. That compares to the US rate of 5.1%.

Those planning to hunt hogs within the boundaries of the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area can get their permit starting this Saturday September 3rd. That is the date that hog hunting permits for the Big South Fork will go on sale for $5 each. Those permits are good in the Big South Fork in Kentucky and Tennessee and the Obed Wild and Scenic River area in Tennessee and must be used in conjunction with a valid hunting license. Hunters are also reminded that dogs may not be used in the hunting of hogs on National Park Service lands. Wild hogs may be hunted from September 24th through February 2017 in Tennessee, with the season opening September 3rd and running through February on the Kentucky side of the park. You may purchase a hog hunting permit at any of the park service's visitor centers or online at www.nps.gov/biso/planyourvisit/hog-hunting.htm. For additional information call the Bandy Creek Visitor Center of the Big South Fork at 423-286-7275.

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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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