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LOCAL OBITUARIES
 
Goldia Fostina Howard age 81 passed away Friday April 22, 2016. Funeral services will be Friday at 4:00PM at Pine Knot Funeral Home with burial in King Family Cemetery in Strunk. Visitation will be Friday after 2:00PM at the funeral home. Pine Knot Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
Paula Manning age 58 of Pine Knot passed away Tuesday April 26, 2016. Funeral services will be Saturday at 1:00PM at Murphy Ridge Church of God with burial in Jess Privett Cemetery. Visitation will be Saturday after 11:00AM at the church. Southern Oaks Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
Hoyatt Perry age 87 of Charlotte, NC passed away Friday April 22, 2016. Graveside services will be Saturday at 3:00PM at Higginbotham Cemetery with burial to follow. Visitation will be Saturday after 2:00PM. Pine Knot Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
 
 
DAILY NEWS UPDATES
 

EXCITING THINGS HAPPENING AT McCREARY CENTRAL HIGH SCHOOL
Good news has been flowing out of McCreary Central High School in recent weeks, including the announcement this month that the high school's band program was awarded a grant worth more than $20,000 from the "Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation" named and founded after the 1995 film. The grant will allow the band program, and Band Instructor Michelle Simpson, to purchase eight new instruments for the program including a marching sousaphone, alto saxophone, concert tuba, trumpet and more.

The McCreary Central Drama Club also got good news with a runner-up finish at the University of the Cumberlands EKDAS competition a couple of weeks ago. Several cast members also received individual honors for their presentations during the competition.

Long time McCreary County teacher Joe Waters was also recently recognized for his contributions to education with the awarding of the Dr. Charles Whitlock Alumni Award from Eastern Kentucky University. Waters is a high school history and advanced placement teacher at McCreary Central.

Students, staff and parents at McCreary Central High School are also getting set for a busy few weeks ahead with the 2016 prom in May and graduation which is set for Saturday June 4th.

MOTORISTS ALONG HIGHWAY 90 URGED TO USE CAUTION THIS SATURDAY
Motorists who will be traveling along Kentucky Highway 90 east and west of Cumberland Falls in McCreary and Whitley Counties this Saturday are being urged to use caution, slow down and watch for volunteers along the roadway. Those volunteers will be taking part in the 9th annual Cumberland Falls/Highway 90 cleanup sponsored by PRIDE. Registration begins at 9:00am Saturday April 30th with the cleanup from 10:00am to 12noon and a free cookout to follow for volunteers.

CONGRESSMAN HAL ROGERS ACTS TO STOP PLAN BY CORPS OF ENGINEERS
Concerns raised in recent weeks and months that a plan by the US Army Corps of Engineers to begin charging for water taken out of Lake Cumberland would impact local water bills have been at least partially relieved. US Congressman Hal Rogers, as chairman of the US House Appropriations Committee, was able to remove funding from the federal budget for a study by the Corps of Engineers that would have eventually led to them charging utility companies, municipalities and water companies for water intake from the lake. Without the study, officials say the corps cannot charge for the water taken by the various entities, including the McCreary County Water District. However, officials with the Corps of Engineers did say that while they will not be able to charge for the water, and have no plans to cut off the reservoir's intakes, entities that draw water without a renewed easement would technically be trespassing on federal property. They added, however, that it is unclear how that situation would even be handled if at all. Concerns came locally when the Corps of Engineers first announced the plans because of the impact it could have on local water bills, if the water district had to begin paying for that water intake. The corps says without federal funding to complete the study, the project will remain at a stand still.

WAYNE COUNTY MAN PLEADS NOT GUILTY TO WIFE'S MURDER
The Wayne County man arrested this past weekend on charges that include murder in connection with the death of his own wife was in court for the first time earlier this week. 29 year old Joseph Jones appeared in Wayne District Court where he entered a not guilty plea to the charges against. The judge set bond at $500,000 for Jones who was being held in the Wayne County Detention Center and is set to be back in court for a preliminary hearing next Monday. Jones is accused of killing his wife, Rachel, and disposing of her body in a well where she was found last Friday. He was identified as the prime suspect early on in the investigation and was arrested Saturday.

US CONGRESSMAN HAL ROGERS ENCOURAGES ENTRIES IN ART CONTEST
US Congressman Hal Rogers is encouraging high school students in his district in southern and eastern Kentucky to enter the 2016 Congressional Art Competition. Each year, the Us House of Representatives holds the annual art contest to help showcase the talent of students in the respective districts. The top three district winners will be chosen from Congressman Rogers offices in Somerset, Prestonsburg, and Hazard with the winner receiving two free airline tickets to be flown to Washington, DC for the annual awards ceremony. Their artwork will be displayed at the show in the Capitol building and the winner may also be eligible for an artistic college scholarship. For competition guidelines and submissions you can visit halrogers.house.gov. Artwork must not exceed 28” x 28” x 4” or 15 pounds and is due in the Congressional District office no later than next Monday May 2, 2016.

McCREARY COUNTY FARMERS MARKET SET TO OPEN MAY 7TH
The McCreary County Farmers' Market will open for its third season on Saturday May 7th, with opening day and family day activities planned. The day's events will include vendors set up selling locally grown produce, plus food and crafts, as well as activities for kids such as inflatable obstacle course, face painting and other activities. The market will open at 9:00am off Wilburn K Ross Highway next to the Soil and Water Conservation District office, across from Raider Way, in Stearns. The market will then be open each Saturday starting at 9:00am at that location and will also plan several Thursday evening “mobile” markets throughout the season. Farmers' Market organizers remind local residents that they are welcome to setup and sell their locally grown produce and locally produced crafts for a small membership fee for the year or you can pay a $5.00 per day vendor fee at the market. Credit cards, debit cards and SNAP/EBT are accepted at the market for payment, along with cash payments to vendors. For more information or to become a member of the McCreary County Farmers' Market, visit farmersmarket.mccrearycounty.com or like the market on Facebook. You can also call 376-3008 between 12:30-4:30pm for information.

WAYNE COUNTY MAN ARRESTED FOR WIFE'S MURDER
A Wayne County man is now behind bars charged with murder, domestic violence and tampering with physical evidence, after his wife's body was discovered Friday morning in a well. Investigators said on Friday that they had a suspect in mind and were searching for him at that time. Then, came the arrest of the woman;s own husband on the charges Saturday morning. 29 year old Joseph Jones was taken into custody and lodged in the Wayne County Detention Center. Kentucky State Police Troopers were called to the scene of the well Friday morning after receiving a call about the remains. Crews worked for several hours to remove those remains from the well and were then able to identify them as belonging to 28 year old Rachel Jones. Kentucky State Police are leading the investigation.

SOMERSET BUSINESSMAN DIES MORE THAN A MONTH AFTER BEING SHOT
Back on March 9th of this year, well known Somerset businessman Ward Correll was reportedly at home alone when he apparently accidentally shot himself. He was able to call a relative who contacted 911 and Correll was transported to the hospital in critical condition. Now, more than a month later, authorities confirmed that Correll died Thursday night at UK Medical Center in Lexington. Ward Correll was well known in Somerset for his various business dealings, and also for his donations of land and money for community projects. His reach also included other communities, like McCreary County where he had business ventures through the years and still owned land. Correll was 88 years old. His funeral is planned for Tuesday April 26th at 2:00pm at First Baptist Church of Somerset with burial in Oak Hill Cemetery.

McCREARY CENTRAL JROTC CELEBRATING ANNIVERSARY WITH 5K RUN
While McCreary Central High School has had a Junior ROTC program for more than 35 years, the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps program has been in existence for one hundred (100) years. The local ROTC program will celebrate the 100th anniversary with a special 5k Fun Run this Saturday April 23rd with a course beginning on the high school football field and track and going around the school campus twice. Registration for the fun run is open to the public and anyone interest can speak with any McCreary Central JROTC cadet or staff member at the high school. The event will begin at 11:00am this Saturday. The local JROTC program was started after McCreary County High School and Pine Knot High School consolidated into McCreary Central in 1978.

McCREARY AMONG 65 KY COUNTIES WITH INCREASED JOBLESS RATES
State officials have just released the latest unemployment figures for the state and its 120 counties, showing that more than half of those had increased jobless rates between March 2015 and March 2016. McCreary County is among the 65 counties in the state to fall into that category, with the rate of citizens seeking employment going from 8.5% a year ago to 9.5% in March of this year. The good news, on the local labor market front, is that McCreary County's jobless rate was down between February and March from 10.1% to the 9.5% recorded last month. The ten county Lake Cumberland area, which includes McCreary County, recorded a 7.1% jobless rate last month, down from 7.7% in February and also down from 7.4% in March 2015. Kentucky's unemployment rate was listed at 5.8% in March of this year, up from 5.6% in March 2015. The US rate was 5.1% in March 2016. Unemployment rates are based on estimates of actual job seekers within a four week period. For more information on labor market data in Kentucky you can visit www.kylmi.ky.gov.

KENTUCKY STATE POLICE TO TAKE PART IN “NATIONAL DRUG TAKE BACK DAY”
The Kentucky State Police will be taking part in the annual DEA National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, which is slated for Saturday April 30th. As part of the event, Post 11 of the KSP will offer a collection drop off point at the Laurel County Health Department located at 525 Whitley Street in London, Kentucky. From 10:00am to 2:00pm on April 30th, those with old, outdated prescription drugs can dispose properly of those medications by bringing them to that location. Liquid medications such as cough syrup and others should be in their original container with the lid tightly sealed. Drugs disposed of in their original container should have the name and other personal information removed from the label. Intravenous solutions, injectibles and syringes will not be accepted due to the potential risk posed by those items. Once the event is concluded, state police will seal the container and turn over to the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) for proper disposal. For McCreary County residents, keep in mind that a prescription drug disposal box is also located at the local sheriff's office and is accessible during regular business hours.

BIG SOUTH FORK GEARING UP FOR ANNUAL SPRINT PLANTING FESTIVAL
The annual Spring Planting and Music Festival is set for next Saturday April 30th in and around the Bandy Creek area, on the Tennessee side of the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area. The event begins at 9:00am and will continue throughout the day with craft demonstrations, old timey toys, demonstrations of traditional skills like basket weaving, soap making, blacksmithing and more. Musical performances will continue throughout the day including the Smoky Mountain Flute Circle, Knoxville Area Dulcimer Club, Sweet T's Clogging, Cowboy Bob Johnson, Big Lick Boys, and others. Other activities during the day include a fun run, children's activities and a birding walk starting at 8:00am that morning from the Bandy Creek Visitor Center. For full details, schedules and directions to the Spring Planting and Music Festival on April 30th, call the Bandy Creek Visitor Center at 423-286-7275 or visit the park's website at www.nps.gov/biso.

COMMUNITY ACTION GARDEN PROGRAM TAKING APPLICATIONS
The Lake Cumberland Community Action Agency office is now taking applications for their annual garden program. The application period begins Wednesday April 20
th and runs for as long as funds are available. The program provides eligible households with vouchers redeemable for gardening supplies at approved vendors. Participants must provide proof of income from the previous month as well as social security cards and other information on each household member. Applications may be filed at the local community action agency in the former Maloney's building, next to the welfare office, in Whitley City. For information call the office at 376-2593.

DANIEL BOONE NATIONAL FOREST OFFICIALS URGE CAUTION WITH FIRES
Current conditions have promoted officials with the Daniel Boone National Forest to issue warnings about using extreme caution with fires in the forest. There have already been some wildfires started in the national forest which stretches across a large part of Kentucky, including encompassing much of McCreary County. Those using fire in or near the forest are urged to keep campfires in designated fire rings in campgrounds, or use camp stoves or grills for food preparation instead of fires. Also remember that anyone caught leaving a fire unattended can be fined and be ordered to pay court costs. While campfires are not currently prohibited in the Daniel Boone National Forest, officials say it is important to use caution when using them. Kentucky is also still in the spring forest fire hazard season, meaning it is illegal to burn outdoors within 150 feet of any woodland or brush land except after 6:00pm.

BIG SOUTH FORK PREPARING FOR ANNUAL DECORATION DAY EVENT
The Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area began the annual Decoration Day event last year at Blue Heron Mining Camp, and will continue the activities this May. The event will be held Saturday May 7th with activities from 12:00-4:30pm including live music, exhibits, history on the region and local coal mining, and more. Those interested in coal mining history, local history, those who grew up in or had family who worked in local coal mining camps and anyone interested in enjoying the day's activities is being invited to attend the free event. Those who have historic photos of the area are encouraged to bring the photos for scanning and identification. The day's events will then move to historic Stearns where Michael Nagle will discuss his book “Justus S. Stearns: Michigan Pine King and Kentucky Coal Baron, 1845-1933.” That will take place at the train depot in Stearns Saturday May 7th at 5:30pm with copies of the book available for purchase at that time. Mr. Nagle will be available to discuss the book and sign copies of the publication. For information on the Decoration Day events in Blue Heron and Stearns on May 7th, visit www.nps.gov/biso/planyourvisit/blue-heron-decoration-day.htm or call the Big South Fork park headquarters at 423-569-9778.

HIGHLAND TELEPHONE ISSUES WARNINGS OF SCAMS
Highland Telephone Cooperative and Highland Media have issued warnings of two scams that are currently being reported. In an e-mail to Highland members, they say some are receiving unsolicited phone calls from someone saying they are with “Geek Squad” which helps people remove viruses from their computer. They remind that “Geek Squad” does not make unsolicited phone calls and they remind you to never give access to your computer to anyone that you have not contacted. In addition, an e-mail scan is circulating with an e-mail claiming to be from “Mail Administrator” saying that an update is required to avoid your e-mail account being closed due to mail capacity being full. Do not respond to this e-mail and do not click on any links within such an e-mail. Highland says these are scams and should not be responded to.

McCREARY CHAMBER OF COMMERCE OFFERING 2016 SCHOLARSHIP
The McCreary County Chamber of Commerce is again offering local high school seniors the chance to win a $500 scholarship to assist with their education beyond high school. To apply for the scholarship award, write a 300-500 word essay in response to the question: “If you were a prospective business owner looking to start a business in McCreary County, what would your first impression of the county be? If positive, how would you capitalize on it, and if negative, what would you do to improve it?” You must also include two letters of recommendation and have a minimum 2.5 GPA. The application, essay, letters and transcripts should be submitted no later than May 12th to the McCreary County Chamber of Commerce at PO Box 548, Whitley City, KY 42653. For additional information visit the Chamber website at www.mccrearychamber.com or visit the McCreary County Chamber of Commerce Facebook page.

McCREARY CENTRAL STUDENT SELECTED AS ROGERS SCHOLAR
A McCreary Central High School student has been selected as a 2016 Rogers Scholar, joining 62 high school students from across southern and eastern Kentucky in the program this summer. Sophomore Jessica Cox, the daughter of Sherri and Russell Cox of Whitley City, will take part in the annual leadership program which this summer will be held on the campus of Lindsey Wilson College from June 26
th through July 1st and July 10th through 15th. This is the 19th
annual Rogers Scholars program. More information on the program is avaialble online at www.centeryouthprograms.com.

McCREARY COUNTY FISCAL COURT BEGINS BUDGET PROCESS
With about two and a half months until the start of a new fiscal year on July 1st, the McCreary County Fiscal Court began the process of approving a budget during their regular session last Thursday night. While no action was taken, Judge-Executive Doug Stephens presented the proposed 2016-2017 jail budget for the county to court members, stating that last year's budget combined with estimates from the current fiscal year were used to develop the potential spending plan. Again, the court took no action on the proposed jail budget but will review the document which will be part of the first reading of the overall county budget during the May court session. Following the first reading next month, the budget will have to be submitted to the state for approval and then the local governing body will have to give its final approval before July 1st.

Thursday's fiscal court meeting also including the awarding a bid to Lubrication Equipment for a four post vehicle lift to be used at the county road garage. Bids were sought by the county with three submitted. The low bid was awarded at just over $24,000 while the other two bids came in at just over $26,000.

The court also reappointed Jimmy Barnett and Eddie Ball to the McCreary County Search and Rescue Squad Board of Directors and approved moving Desirah Cowans from PRN paramedic to full time paramedic, replacing Nick Worley whose status has changed.

The next meeting of the McCreary County Fiscal Court will be Thursday May 12th at 6:00pm at the courthouse.

BIG SOUTH FORK CELEBRATING NATIONAL PARK WEEK 2016
National Park Week 2016 is being observed this week, running officially from this past Saturday April 16th through Sunday April 24th. The Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area is observing the occasion by offering free backcountry camping permits all this week, as well as free camping for the period at Alum Ford Campground in McCreary County. For more information on the many offerings of the Big South Fork, you can visit the park's website at www.nps.gov/biso.

McCREARY COUNTY PARK MAY SOON GET SPLASH PADS
Last year, the McCreary County Fiscal Court submitted an application through the state for a grant to install “splash pads” at the local park facility. While that grant application was not successful, it appears the park may still get its splash pads soon. The issue was discussed at the McCreary County Fiscal Court meeting Thursday evening when raised by citizen JC Egnew. He spoke about the park project, environmental issues that slowed development at the park and issues with Weddle Enterprises, the contractor responsible for the park development. He noted that those issues are almost put to rest with a mutual release and waiver of claims which has been prepared, allowing both sides to agree not to sue the other for not living up to the contract in full. County Attorney Conley Chaney explained that Weddle may have claims against the county for not being fully paid, while the county may have claims against the company for not completing the project as outlined in the contract. He said once the waiver is signed by both sides, it will release both sides as well as a pot of money the county has been holding back in a restricted park fund in case it had to pay Weddle in the future. That is where the idea of using that money toward the splash pad project comes in. Egnew said during the meeting that his family would donate funds up to half the cost of purchasing and installing the splash pads, if the county agreed to use the money set aside in the restricted fund at the park. In the end, the court voted to authorize Judge-Executive Doug Stephens to sign the waiver and send to Weddle Enterprises for their signature. The court further voted that once the document was fully executed, the county move ahead with the splash pad project. During his comments, Egnew said that while many would love to see a pool in the county, the cost of installing and maintaining a pool is not feasible for McCreary County. He said that many communities are replacing pools with splash pads for that very reason. Estimates indicate that once a company is engaged in the project, splash pads can be in place within a few weeks, hopefully in time for this summer.

INTERSTATE 75 REOPENED FULLY NEAR KENTUCKY-TENNESSEE LINE
After weeks of detours and slowed traffic flow along Interstate 75 just south of the Kentucky-Tennessee state line, officials have announced that the highway is now fully reopened with traffic flowing normally in both directions. The Tennessee Department of Transportation announced that I-75 northbound would reopen this week following the rock slide in late February, which has impacted traffic since. Crews worked to clear debris from the roadway and to ensure that the area was safe for travel before reopening the lanes this week.

WHITLEY COUNTY PEDESTRIAN KILLED, ANOTHER MAN CHARGED WITH MURDER
A Wednesday afternoon collision on Highway 25 in Williamsburg resulted in a pedestrian being killed and the driver of a car facing murder charges. Police say it happened when 53 year old Richard Perkins was walking his dog on the sidewalk and the car ran off the roadway and struck him. The Whitley County Coroner's Office reports that Perkins died at the scene. The driver, Adam Childress, was transported to the hospital for treatment but police say he is being charged with murder in the case. They say he was intoxicated at the time of the crash. The dog involved was injured but will survive. Williamsburg Police are continuing their investigation.

INFORMATION STILL BEING SOUGHT ON MISSING McCREARY COUNTY MAN
A McCreary County man has been missing for nearly a month and family members are still seeking information and help from the public to locate him. 29 year old Gurnie Lee Watson was last seen on March 19th on Rainbow Circle in Pine Knot and information has been sought on his whereabouts since that time. Watson is described as being about 6'1” and weighing about 210-215lbs with brown eyes and black hair, He was wearing an orange and white button up shirt and blue jeans when last seen, driving a 2006 4 door Olds Alero car that is silver in color. If anyone has information on the whereabouts of Gurnie Watson contact the McCreary County Sheriff's Department at 376-2322 or call 606-516-9061, 606-310-6459 or 606-310-4160.

McCREARY NATIVE LOOKS TO ADD AEROSPACE PROGRAM AT AIRPORT
With so many questions in recent months about operations and the future of the McCreary County Airport, one option being looked at for the facility is a new aerospace education program. Dr. Tim Smith, a McCreary County native who left the county more than thirty years ago, has built a career in public education and the aerospace industry. Smith met with local school officials as well as a group of students from McCreary Central High School at the airport on Tuesday to discuss the program. He then addressed the county airport board that evening and a public town hall meeting at the facility hosted by Magistrate Duston Baird. Dr. Smith noted that the program has potential to engage local high school students, as well as others in the public, in aerospace education and offer a new avenue for learning that can excite and motivate local students. It would also help the local airport, which Judge Executive Doug Stephens noted has been declassified by the FAA because it does not have enough aircraft housed at the facility. He noted that the program being proposed would allow the airport to be brought back to the level needed to become classified for use as an airport again. Judge Stephens voiced his support for the program and the airport board voted to adopt a resolution officially supporting the proposal. Dr. Smith said it would now be up to McCreary County School leaders to determine if the program will work in the local school district.

McCREARY AMONG COUNTIES WITH LOWER JOBLESS RATES IN 2015
Officials with the Kentucky Office of Employment and Training, which is part of the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet, say that 115 out of 120 counties in Kentucky saw improved unemployment rates in 2015, compared to the previous year. McCreary County was on that list. Dropping from 10.6% unemployed in 2014 to 8.3% in 2015. Last year, all of the ten counties in the Lake Cumberland district saw lower jobless rates, with the exception of Russell County which actually saw an increase in jobless from 10.2% in 2014 to 11.9%. Kentucky's unemployment figures show an improvement with 5.4% unemployed in 2015, down from 6.5% in 2014. For more on the labor market in Kentucky and unemployment rates, visit www.kylmi.ky.gov.

McCREARY CENTRAL SENIOR NAMED TO KENTUCKY ALL-STAR TEAM
After an impressive season and a career that is unmatched, McCreary Central High School senior Kaylee Cotton has now been named to the 2016 Kentucky All Star Girl's Basketball Team. Cotton achieved the milestone of scoring more than 3,000 points during her career at McCreary Central while playing this past season and was selected to be part of the elite team which will play against the Indiana All-Star team in June. That will take place at Bellarmine University in Louisville. Cotton then plans to enroll at Lipscomb University where she will play basketball beginning next season.

NATIONAL LIBRARY WEEK CONTINUES AT McCREARY COUNTY FACILITY
The McCreary County Public Library continues to celebrate National Library Week which runs this week through Saturday April 16th. As part of the celebration, the local library is offering its patrons a fine-free week, meaning there are no fines this week on overdue library materials that are returned. In addition, the library has been getting first time readers involved with the Literacy Bell ringing ceremonies this week. The library offers an abundance of services locally on a daily basis including access to books, magazines, newspapers, online services, meeting facilities, children's programs and more. For details, stop by the library on Main Street in downtown Whitley City or call 376-8738, You can also visit www.mccrearylibrary.org or look them up on Facebook.

McCREARY EXTENSION OFFICE ACCEPTING TOBACCO COST SHARE APPS
The McCreary County Cooperative Extension Service has announced that applications are now available and being accepted for the Phase I Tobacco Cost Share Program. Guidelines, information and applications are available during regular hours at the extension office at the McCreary Center Campus. The completed applications must be returned no later than 4:30pm Friday April 22nd. Stop by the office or call 606-376-2524 for information.

McCREARY COUNTY OCCUPATIONAL TAX NUMBERS RELEASED FOR MARCH
The March Occupational Tax numbers are in for McCreary County and show that $52,261.30 was collected from the tax last month. An additional $150 was listed as a direct deposit to the tax account along with $6.19 in interest for total collections in March of $52,417.49. Of that amount, $3,872.19 is to be deducted for administrative expenses, leaving $48,545.30 to be used for county expenses, projects and operations from the tax. For more on the McCreary County Occupational Tax you can visit the tax page online at tax.mccrearycounty.com.

HUMAN REMAINS FOUND IN McCREARY COUNTY IDENTIFIED
The set of human remains found on March 29th in northern McCreary County have now been positively identified as being those of 26 year old Charles R. Murphy of Stearns. He was reported missing to the McCreary County Sheriff's Department last June, according to a press released issued by Kentucky State Police. The examination of the remains reportedly continues by the State Medical Examiner, along with the University of Tennessee Forensic Anthropology Department, to determine the exact cause of death. The investigation is being called a homicide investigation and is being led by Kentucky State Police Detective Billy Correll.

SOMERSET DOCTOR INDICTED ON MEDICAID FRAUD CHARGES
The Kentucky Attorney General's Office announced on Friday that a Somerset doctor has been indicted on charges of Medicaid fraud. 57 year old Dr. Ezekiel O. Akande of Somerset was indicted and arrested on one count of Medicaid fraud and one count of theft by unlawful taking over $500, both Class D felonies. The indictment was officially returned by the Pulaski County Grand Jury last Wednesday and accuses the doctor of billing more than $300 to Medicaid for tobacco cessation counseling when the service was not actually performed. If convicted, he could face up to ten years in prison. The alleged fraudulent billing took place between April 2013 and December 2014, according to the indictment. Additional accusations of fraud are also reportedly being investigated by the Attorney General's Office of Medicaid Fraud and Abuse. Listeners are reminded that an indictment in a case is not a finding of guilt, but is a formal charge.

THE COST FOR FIRST CLASS MAILINGS DROPS AS OF TODAY
We are used to prices going up on most things, including postage stamps, over the years. However, the US Postal Service says starting today (Monday April 11th) when you go to mail first class mail, the price of the stamp will actually be slightly lower. As of today, First Class Mail rates will be adjusted with letters dropping from 49 cents stamp to 47 cents. Letters more than one ounce will be 21 cents per ounce and international mail will be $1.15 and postcards 34 cents. The postal service has not actually reduced the price of its first class stamps in nearly one hundred years, since 1919, when stamps went from 3 cents to 2 cents. An act of Congress passed in 2013 allowed the service to charge a surcharge to stop massive losses during the recession but that act expired April 10th, allowing prices to slip back again.

KENTUCKY BEGINS MAIL-IN ABSENTEE VOTING FOR MAY PRIMARY
Kentucky voters who will not be able to go to the polls on May 17th for the primary election and have a qualifying excuse can begin requesting mail-in absentee ballots as of this week. Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan-Grimes announced on Wednesday that the absentee voting period had officially opened. Those eligible include military personnel serving outside the state, students residing outside their home county, those who will be out of state during the election, those who are of advanced age or disability, and those who will be having surgery or have other medical issues preventing them from going to the polls on May 17th. Voters can request a mail-in absentee ballot from the county clerk's office in person, on the phone, via e-mail or by fax and should return the ballot request form no later than May 10th. You will then receive the actual ballot in the mail which must be returned no later than 6:00pm on election day. For additional information on absentee voting, contact the McCreary County Clerk's Office at 376-2411 or visit elect.ky.gov or sos.ky.gov.

OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES ABUNDANT THIS WEEKEND IN McCREARY COUNTY
While the weather may not fully cooperate this weekend, there will be no shortage of outdoor activities in McCreary County. The second annual Yamacraw Run trail races will take place this Saturday April 9th and this year will include a 10k, 20k and 50k race with well over four hundred racers registered to take part. The 10k race will be focused on the Blue Heron Loop trail, while the 20k and 50k racers will be shuttled from Heritage Hall in downtown Stearns early Saturday morning to the Lick Creek trailhead, where the races begin. Both will end up at Blue Heron and be shuttled back to Stearns throughout the day. Motorists traveling along certain sections of roads in the county, including Yamacraw bridge and where trails cross roadways, are urged to use caution, slow down and watch for racers. Tourism officials have noted that the event is responsible for filling up many local lodging rooms, including at Red Roof Inn, Big South Fork Motor Lodge, Barthell Coal Camp and others.

In addition to the Yamacraw Run races this weekend, the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area is sponsoring another hike in their "Centennial Challenge" series of hikes. The hike will begin Saturday morning (April 9th) and take in a section of the Ledbetter/Kentucky Trail. The trailhead can be found by turning off US Highway 27 in Stearns and following KY Highway 92 west for just over six miles and then turning left onto Yamacraw-Bell Farm Road, or KY Highway 1363. Follow that road for 2.3 miles and turn left on Beech Grove/Rock Creek Road and follow for 1.3 miles. Continue on Beech Grove/Devils Creek Road and turn left on Bald Knob-Hill Cemetery Road. The hike will be a 3.6 mile moderate loop trail hike and participants are asked to bring their own water and snacks. Meet at the trailhead at 10:00am Saturday morning. For information call the Big South Fork Bandy Creek Visitor Center at 423-286-7275.

RELAY FOR LIFE "HEE HAW" SHOW IN 5TH YEAR WITH APRIL 9TH SHOW
The McCreary County Relay for Life committee is again sponsoring the annual "Hee Haw" show locally to raise money for the relay and the fight against cancer. This will be the 5th annual show and, unlike previous years, will include only one show this year. The show begins at 6:00pm this Saturday April 9th in the auditorium at McCreary Central High School. Admission will be a $5.00 donation to the American Cancer Society, with children 10 and under admitted free. There will be concessions sold and all proceeds will support the American Cancer Society.

McCREARY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT URGES PROPERTY TAX PAYMENTS
The McCreary County Sheriff's Department is urging local property owners to make their 2015 property tax payments, if you have not already done so. The deadline to pay the bill before it is turned over to McCreary County Clerk Eric Haynes to prepare for the delinquent tax sale is next Friday April 15
th. To assist local taxpayers with making their payments, the sheriff's office will not only be open regular office hours through the 15th, but will also be open this Saturday April 9th from 9:00am to 2:00pm. For information or to look up tax bills online, go to www.mccrearysheriff.com and click on the property tax link.

KENTUCKY HEALTH OFFICIALS URGE VACCINATIONS DURING FLU SEASON
Many Kentuckians may think that it is too late to get vaccinated for flu season, but state health officials say the season is still active and may continue for several more weeks. They add that the flu activity in Kentucky is considered “widespread” for the ninth consecutive week. It takes about two weeks for the vaccine to fully develop protection from the flu, so officials say if you have not been vaccinated already this season, now is the time to take that action to protect yourself. Those at highest risk include young children, the elderly, pregnant women and those with chronic illnesses. Flu symptoms can include fever, headache, cough, sore throat, runny nose, sneezing and body aches. Anyone experiencing flu-like symptoms should seek medical attention and avoid contact with others if possible. To avoid getting the flu, limit contact in public with others during peak flu season times, wash your hands on a regular basis, clean and disinfect surfaces and objects, and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth, as germs can spread easily. For additional information and advice, visit healthalerts.ky.gov.

KENTUCKY'S HIGHWAY FATALITIES INCREASE IN 2015
The numbers are in and the news is not good in terms of traffic fatalities in 2015. The Kentucky Office of Highway Safety and Kentucky State Police released the numbers this week showing an increase in traffic fatalities from 2014 to 2015. 761 fatalities were reported on the state's highways last year, a number that was up by 89 deaths over 2014. Of the traffic fatalities last year, 51% were not buckled up, according to the data, while 18.7% involved alcohol. More than 36% of the deaths involved speeding or aggressive drivers and motorcyclists accounted for a total of 80 fatalities last year with 65% of those not wearing a helmet. Officials say that warmer weather at the end of 2015 combined with lower gas prices may have contributed to increased traffic which also contributed to the increase in accidents and fatalities. So far in the current year, state officials say that there have been 151 roadway fatalities in Kentucky, which is down from 173 deaths compared to the same time period lats year. For additional information you can visit highwaysafety.ky.gov or www.kentuckystatepolice.org.

VOLUNTEERS SOUGHT FOR UPCOMING CLEANUP EFFORTS
If you are looking for a way to help your community, and perhaps make it a little cleaner and make sure it gives a better first impression, one of several cleanup efforts scheduled this month may be a good way to get involved.

Volunteers are being sought for the Laurel River Lake cleanup which is being held this Saturday April 9th. The event begins with registration at 8:00am at the beach area of the Laurel Dam spillway with the cleanup from 9:00am to 1:00pm. Trash bags, gloves, and vest will be provided. For information on the cleanup you can call the London Ranger District of the Daniel Boone National Forest at 606-864-4163.

The annual Cumberland Falls cleanup sponsored by Eastern Kentucky PRIDE will be held at the end of the month, on Saturday April 30th. This is the annual challenge between McCreary and Whitley Counties to see which county can get the most volunteers involved in cleaning up around the falls and along Highway 90 in both directions. For information on that cleanup you can call the McCreary County Judge-Executive's Office at 376-2413 or visit the PRIDE website at www.kypride.org.

McCREARY EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT SPONSORING SKYWARN CLASS
McCreary County Emergency Management Director Rudy Young has announced that a SKYWARN weather spotter training class will be held later this month. The class will be taught by Tony Edwards, with the Jackson, Kentucky National Weather Service/NOAA Weather office. The class will inform participants about spotting weather patterns and approaching weather systems. It will be held Thursday April 21st from 6:00-8:00pm at the McCreary County Public Library. Additional information is available by calling Rudy Young at the Judge-Executive's office at 376-2413 or e-mailing rudy@mccrearycounty.com.

BIG SOUTH FORK, OBED TO HOST SCIENCE MEETING
The public is being invited to spend a day with scientists who have been conducting research in the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area and the Obed Wild and Scenic River area in Tennessee. The public meeting to be held later this month will help increase understanding of the ecosystems of the parks and enhance communication between researchers, the public and park officials. The science meeting will be held Wednesday April 20th at the Historic Rugby Visitor Center in Rugby, Tennessee. Some topics discussed will include black bear management, impacts of repairs on Wolf Creel Dam, insect infestations, history of moonshining and more. For additional information on the meeting call Etta Spradlin at 423-569-9778.

McCREARY COUNTY SCHOOL BUS INVOLVED IN CRASH
A McCreary County school bus was reportedly involved in a collision Thursday afternoon at the intersection of US Highway 27 and KY 478 (Williamsburg Street). It happened at about 4:36pm according to an alert sent to parents by Schools Superintendent Mike Cash. That alert states that the bus was leaving Williamsburg Street when another vehicle may have run a traffic light and struck the side of the bus. There were no students on the bus at the time while the driver was transported to the hospital but was quickly released after examination. The crash is under investigation.

FATAL CRASH IN PULASKI COUNTY BEING INVESTIGATED
A fatal crash was reported in neighboring Pulaski County Saturday morning just off Kentucky Highway 39. It happened at about 9:30am Saturday when the single vehicle involved crashed, ejecting 39 year old Orville Privett from the vehicle causing fatal injuries. 16 year old Darren Privett was a passenger in the vehicle and was transported to Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital in Somerset for treatment. The Pulaski County Sheriff's Department is investigation the weekend crash and, while the exact details are still being examined, they say speed may have been a contributing factor in the crash.

PARENT COMPANY OF SCOTT COUNTY HOSPITAL FILES FOR BANKRUPTCY
Reports came out late last week that Pioneer Health Services has filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Pioneer is the parent company that operates Pioneer Community Hospital of Scott County. Oneida newspaper The Independent Herald reports online that the decision was made by the company in an effort to “stabilize operations and ensure long-term viability.” The report stresses the fact that there are no immediate plans to close the hospital which serves Scott and neighboring counties, including McCreary County. However, plans do apparently include scaling back some services and cutting a number of jobs from the staff at the hospital. The hospital was closed for a time before Pioneer took over operations in 2012 under an agreement with Scott County officials that transferred ownership of the facility and property to Pioneer with the understanding that it be operated as a hospital for at least six years or it would revert back to Scott County. With two years remaining on that agreement it appears that the company will not be in violation of those terms if the facility continues to operate as an acute hospital. Officials in Scott County have said that the scaling back of services will put a strain on other local agencies including ambulance services which may have to transport to other facilities.

McCREARY COUNTY MAN INDICTED FOR IMPERSONATING OFFICER
A case that most local residents will remember from late last year made its way to the McCreary County Grand Jury during their March session. Last November, reports surfaced about a man claiming to be a federal Marshall who was stopping motorists locally as well as in Wayne County. Marshes Siding resident James R. Jones was eventually arrested and charged with impersonating a peace officer. The grand jury returned an indicted this past month against Jones on that charge, after he was already previously indicted on nine counts in Wayne County. Listeners are reminded that an indictment by the grand jury is not a finding of guilt, but is a formal charge in a case.

FORMER HIGH SCHOOL TEACHER, COACH WITHDRAWS PLEA DEAL
A former teacher and girls' sports coach from McCreary Central High School has withdrawn a plea deal, to which he previously agreed, stating that he was not clear on the terms of that deal at the time.
The McCreary County Voice reports that Toby Curry was in court this week seeking a withdrawal of the plea deal in which he agreed to plead guilty to charges and accept a three year sentence, with credit for time served, and to be placed on the sex offender registry for twenty years. That last part of the deal was apparently what Curry objected to once he learned of the details. Through his attorney, Curry stated in court that neither he nor his attorney were fully aware of the terms including the fact that he would be forced to be on the registry for two decades. After hearing arguments from both sides, Circuit Judge Dan Ballou agreed to allow Curry to withdraw his plea deal and set a trial date for this July. Curry, a former teacher and coach at McCreary Central, has been accused of using his cell phone to communicate with and allegedly arrange sexual contact with a victim under age 18.

HUMAN REMAINS FOUND IN McCREARY COUNTY; INVESTIGATION UNDERWAY
Kentucky State Police are leading an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the discovery of human remains in McCreary County this week. Authorities say the remains were located behind a residence off Day Ridge Road in northern McCreary County Tuesday morning. They appeared to have been in that spot for at least several months, according to a press release from the KSP. McCreary County Coroner Tim Corder was called to the scene to take possession of the remains, which were sent to the State Medical Examiner's Office for for testing, and possible identification of the deceased. Police also say that the exact cause of death and date of death are unknown at this time, but add that foul play is suspected in the case. Kentucky State Police Detective Billy Correll is leading the investigation with assistance from the McCreary County Sheriff's Department, McCreary County Coroner's Office, Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife, and US Forest Service.

BIG SOUTH FORK SET TO HOST 16TH ANNUAL SPRING PLANTING FESTIVAL
The Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area is preparing for their 16
th annual Spring Planting and Music Festival, which is coming up at the end of next month. The event is set for Saturday April 30th at the Bandy Creek Visitor Center and surrounding area on the Tennessee side of the park. The festival will include craft demonstrations, including blacksmithing, basket making, hand spinning, woodcarving and more, plus demonstrations of antique farm tools, old time toys, farm animals, and live music throughout the day. There will be crafts and food sold during the event. For additional information on the Big South Fork Spring Planting and Music Festival, call the Bandy Creek Visitor Center at 423-286-7275 or visit the park's website at www.nps.gov/biso.

SOMERSET MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENT PROVES FATAL
A motorcycle crash which occurred Monday at about 2:00pm on East Somerset Church Road is under investigation by Somerset Police. They say 23 year old Haven O'Connor lost control of the motorcycle and struck a utility pole before being thrown from the bike. O'Connor was transported to the hospital and was later pronounced dead. The crash remains under investigation and authorities say they are not sure what caused the motorcycle to go out of control.

McCREARY COUNTY SHERIFF REMINDS TAXPAYERS TO MAKE PAYMENTS
McCreary County taxpayers who have not yet paid last year's property tax bills are running out of time to do so. The McCreary County Sheriff's Department announced this week that they will accept tax payments through Friday April 15
th at their office. After that date, tax bills will be turned over to County Clerk Eric Haynes to prepare for the annual delinquent tax bill sale, which would then put a lien on the property. That lien would have to be paid off before the property owner could refinance or sell that property in the future. Contact the McCreary County Sheriff's Department to arrange for payment of your tax bill prior to April 15th. The office also noted that they will be closed this Friday April 1st.

DEADLINE APPROACHES FOR BIG SOUTH FORK STUDENT ART CONTEST
The Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area is pushing for entries in their fourth grade student art contest, with the entry deadline this Friday April 1st. Students in McCreary and Wayne Counties in Kentucky are eligible, along with those in Scott, Fentress, Morgan and Pickett Counties in Tennessee. Students must complete some type of activity within the park and then draw a picture based on what they learned from that experience. Entries should be 8 1/2” x 11” and be on white paper or cardstock paper. The drawing can be completed using paint, crayon, marker, coloring pencil or pencil. Entries should be turned in to Big South Fork park headquarters no later than this Friday April 1st. For information call Christy Strand at 423-569-9778 or visit www.nps.gov/biso.

AMERICAN PICKERS COMING TO KENTUCKY IN APRIL
Mike Wolf, Frank Fritz and the team from “American Pickers” will be in Kentucky next month filming and searching for “rusty gold” for their show on the History channel. The crew from “Antique Archeology” travel state to state in search of antiques, vintage bicycles, motorcycles, folk art, and other items considered to be collectible and desirable to collectors. The crew is reportedly searching for areas to visit in Kentucky and ask that anyone with a collection of items that may be of interest call 855-OLD-RUST or e-mail the information to americanpickers@cineflix.com. Exact dates for filming in the state have not yet been released.

INFORMATION SOUGHT ON MISSING McCREARY COUNTY MAN
The McCreary County Sheriff's Department has released a flyer seeking information on a missing man who was last seen about a week and a half ago. 29 year old Gurnie Lee Watson was last seen on Rainbow Circle in Pine Knot March 19th wearing an orange and white button up shirt and blue jeans. He has brown eyes and black hair and stands about 6'1" tall, weighing about 210-215lbs. Watson was last seen driving a 2006 model silver 4 door Alero car. Anyone with information should call the McCreary County Sheriff's Department at 376-2322 or 376-1922. You can also call 606-516-9061 or 606-310-6459 or 606-310-4160.

McCREARY COUNTY'S JOBLESS RATE HITS DOUBLE DIGITS
In recent months, McCreary County's unemployment rate has stayed below the double digit mark, but that was not the case last month. In February 2016, McCreary County's jobless rate rose to 10.1% according to data just released by state officials. That is up from 9.5% in January and is up from 8.7% in February last year. McCreary County recorded the second highest rate of unemployed citizens in the ten county Lake Cumberland area, bhehind only Russell County which came in at 10.7%. Next in line was Clinton County at 9.8% and Wayne County at 9.1%. The lowest rate in the region was reported in Casey County where only 6.1% of its citizens were job seekers. The Lake Cumberland area had a 7.6% jobless rate last month, unchanged from the previous month but up slightly from 7.3% in February last year. Kentucky's jobless rate came in at 6.3% in February, up from 6.2% the previous month. The national rate was 5.2% last month. For more information on labor market data and unemployment rates in Kentucky, visit kylmi.ky.gov.

BODY DISCOVERED IN WHITLEY COUNTY; INVESTIGATION UNDERWAY
The Whitley County Coroner's Office confirmed Saturday that a body was discovered near the Clear Fork River area of the county that morning. At about 10:30am Saturday, authorities say the Woodbine Fire Department was conducting a search and located the body, which has been identified as that of 48 year old Joel S. Moses. A Golden Alert was issued for Moses earlier this month and his truck was later found about a mile from where the body was found this weekend. The coroner's office says that an autopsy was performed on Sunday for positive identification and for a possible cause of death as the investigation continues.

McCREARY COUNTY PAWN SHOP THEFT RESULTS IN ARREST
A break-in and theft which was reported at the pawn shop and game room located in the old Bestway Plaza in Whitley City has resulted in an arrest, according to a report this past week in The McCreary County Voice. The McCreary County Sheriff's Department told The Voice that the break-in occurred early last Monday morning and that the suspect allegedly broke into game machines to take coins, along with stealing various items from the pawn shop. Security camera footage apparently caught the suspect on tape and helped lead authorities to arrest 29 year old Robert Lowe, Jr. of Stearns, charging him with 3rd degree burglary, theft by unlawful taking, criminal mischief, and criminal trespassing. Authorities say that once in custody, Lowe not only admitted to his role in the crime but indicated that others were involved. Additional arrests and additional charges may be pending as the investigation continues.

SCOTT COUNTY, TN POLICE ARREST COUPLE ON DRUG CHARGES
A couple facing charges in Scott County, Tennessee on a multitude of drug charges includes a Pine Knot, Kentucky man. 53 year old Paul Anthony Perkins of Pine Knot was arrested last week along with 27 year old Vanessa Henry of Huntsville, Tennessee after police were searching for Henry, who was apparently wanted on charges in Kentucky. Police executed a search warrant at an Oneida home where they reportedly found methamphetamine, marijuana, and a variety of drug paraphernalia. Both suspects were charged with possession of a schedule II controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia and tampering with or fabricating evidence. Perkins was also charged with trafficking and possession of marijuana. The Scott County Sheriff's Department is leading the investigation.

McCREARY WATER PLANT RECOGNIZED FOR SUPERIOR PERFORMANCE
Thirty four surface water treatment plants in Kentucky have been recognized for superior performance by the state's Energy and Environment Cabinet. Among the plants listed is McCreary County Water District's Plant B which was selected as one of the top plants in the state as part of the Kentucky's Area Wide Optimization Program, which encourages systems to surpass state and federal goals and standards. In addition to simply being recognized for superior performance, the McCreary County Water District Plant B also received a gold seal for achieving their goals 100 percent of the time in the year 2015.

McCREARY COUNTY'S 4TH DISTRICT MAGISTRATE TO HOST TOWN HALL
On the heels of this week's town hall meeting hosted by McCreary County third district magistrate, Jason Mann, the county's fourth district magistrate now says he will host a meeting of his own. Duston Baird announced this week his town hall meeting will be Tuesday April 12th at 6:00pm, although he was still working to confirm the location for the gathering at last report. Baird said he will update citizens on what is going on with county government, ask county department heads to speak and answer questions, and will have the agenda in hand for the April 14th meeting of the Fiscal Court. That will allow him to inform citizens of items on the agenda and seek public input.

WILLIAMSBURG MAYOR PUSHING FOR EXPANDED ALCOHOL SALES
After already approving alcohol sales by the drink at restaurants, the city of Williamsburg could be looking at a vote to expand to allowing package sales, at least of the mayor gets his way. WYMT TV in Hazard reports that Mayor Roddy Harrison is apparently pushing an effort to get the final signatures needed on a petition to call for the vote. He is emphasizing the economic impact that sales can have on the community which currently allows drink sales but only at restaurants seating at least 100 people and deriving at least 70% of their receipts from food sales. Mayor Harrison noted that if the measure is voted in by Williamsburg residents, it will allow the package sales and would also modify the way it is sold in restaurants by lowering the seating requirement to 50 and dropping the food sales requirement to 50%. The mayor says he expects to turn in more than enough signatures to call for the vote sometime next week.

BIG SOUTH FORK HOSTING BLUE HERON LOOP "CHALLENGE"
The Big South Fork continues its series of "Centennial Challenges" this year, in honor of the 100th anniversary of the creation of the park service this year. This Saturday, March 26th, a "Centennial Challenge" hike will be led at the Blue Heron Loop beginning at 10:00am. Participants should wear sturdy, comfortable shoes, bring water and meet at the Blue Heron Overlook parking lot off Highway 742. The hike will be a moderate 6.4 mile hike which include "Cracks in the Rocks" and other scenic images along the way. It is free to join in. For information call the park at 423-286-7275.

McCREARY SCHOOLS UPDATE CALENDAR FOR THE REST OF THE YEAR
The McCreary County Board of Education recently voted to approve an amended school calendar for the rest of this year, including modifying the spring break schedule. Local schools will now get a four day weekend, instead of the originally planned week long break. Spring break will be Thursday April 7th and Friday April 8th for the McCreary County School District. The next day off for students and staff will be primary election day which will be Tuesday May 17th, followed by Memorial Day on Monday May 30th. The last scheduled day for school in McCreary County is Friday June 3rd with high school graduation set for 10:00am on Saturday June 4th.

WHITLEY CITY ELEMENTARY SCHOOL TO HOST KINDERGARTEN REGISTRATION
With more than two months remaining in the current school year, it is already time to start preparing for the 2016-2017 school year. Whitley City Elementary School has announced they will host kindergarten registration next Tuesday March 29th and Tuesday April 26th from 9:00am to 4:00pm each day. Parents and guardians should attend the registration and bring your child with you along with a copy of the child's birth certificate, social security card, physical proof, immunization record, eye exam, dental screening and any custody papers. For additional information, contact Whitley City Elementary School.

McCREARY COUNTY MAGISTRATE HOSTS TOWN HALL MEETING
About twenty citizens gathered in the train depot of the Big South Fork Scenic Railway Monday evening, along with several county department heads, as Magistrate Jason Mann hosted a town hall meeting. Mann wanted to update the citizens of his district and the county on things going on with county government while also giving those citizens a chance to ask questions. Represented at the town hall were tourism, farmers market, county park, community service including litter abatement and recycling, and McCreary County Heritage Foundation. The McCreary County Chamber of Commerce also addressed the crowd about their ongoing projects and meetings. Magistrate Mann also addressed the issue of the Army Corps of Engineers plans to potentially charge water districts for the use of water from Lake Cumberland, including the McCreary County Water District. There have been reports that if that is enforced it will prompt hikes in local water bills with talks that it could also impact other utility bills. Mann said the best thing citizens can do on the issue is to contact Kentucky's US Senators and US Representative Hal Rogers to voice opposition to the plan. Deputy Judge Executive Andy Powell, who was also in attendance at Monday's town hall meeting, said as citizens contact lawmakers they should also push for the Corps of Engineer's to be forced to pay “payment in lieu of taxes” (PILT) on land they claim ownership of around the lake, for which they currently pay no taxes.

There has been no word if any of the other county magistrates have plans currently to host town hall meetings. In the past, Magistrate Roger Phillips hosted a meeting during the previous term and Magistrate Duston Board hosted a meeting last year in Pine Knot.

HIGH SCHOOL SENIORS CAN APPLY FOR “I AM UNITE” SCHOLARSHIP
Operation UNITE has announced that they are extending the application deadline for high school seniors to compete for a scholarship to continue their education after high school. The scholarship is called the “I Am UNITE” award and can provide $1500 for high school graduates to use for post-secondary education expenses. Eligible applicants must be a high school senior this year preparing for graduation living in the 32 county service area of Operation UNITE, which includes McCreary County. Information on applying is available online at www.operationunite.org or by e-mailing Shawna Ping at sping@centertech.com or Debbie Trusty at dtrusty@centertech.com. The application deadline has been extented to Friday April 8th.

FOUR IN WHITLEY COUNTY CHARGED WITH DRUG OFFENSES
The Whitley County Sheriff's Department reports the execution of search warrants this past weekend which resulted in the arrest of four individuals on drug charges. According to a press release issued by the department, 35 year old Crystal Rapier Harrell was charged with second degree trafficking in a controlled substance, possession of marijuana, possession of a controlled substance and possession of a prescription controlled substance not in its original container. Also arrested this weekend were 65 year old Eugene Murray and Betty Murray, both on charges of second degree trafficking, while 50 year old Lisa N. Coffey was charged with second degree trafficking, possession of marijuana, and possession of drug paraphernalia. The Whitley County Sheriff's Department is continuing the investigation and say all suspects were lodged in the Whitley County Detention Center.

McCREARY AWARDED GRANT FOR TRAIL TOWN MERCHANT DEVELOPMENT
McCreary County officials have announced that the county has been awarded an ARC (Appalachian Regional Commission) grant to help with a “Trail Town Merchant Development” project. The grant is worth $9,200, with a local $2,300 match, for a total project cost of $11,500. The funding will be used to contract with an outside consultant to identify 50 local businesses including lodging, restaurants, crafts shops, convenience stores and other businesses impacted by the tourism industry. The businesses will be asked to take part in the project to see where businesses currently stand, what resources they are taking advantage of and what steps they can take to improve their business and attract for customers moving forward by better catering to what customers want and need. The project will be completed by later this year resulting in specific recommendations for businesses and tourism and county officials. The project was discussed in detail during last night's regular monthly meeting of the McCreary County Tourist Commission.

WOMAN KILLED IN PULASKI COUNTY MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENT
Authorities in Pulaski County say a woman was killed Thursday in a motorcycle accident at the intersection of Kentucky Highway 1247 and the 1247/Highway 90 ramp. It happened at about 7:00 Thursday morning when the motorcycle on which the woman was riding collided with a car. 45 year old Taralynne Seefeldt was pronounced dead at the scene by the Pulaski County Coroner's Office. The driver of the car was treated at the scene for non-life threatening injuries. The accident remains under investigation by the Burnside Police Department.

SPRING CLEANING ENCOURAGED ACROSS THE REGION
Spring has officially arrived and officials are encouraging residents to do some spring cleaning, not just around their own property but along roadways too. Each year, the Eastern Kentucky PRIDE program sponsors spring cleanups across southern and eastern Kentucky, as well as the annual Cumberland Falls cleanup which is a challenge between McCreary and Whitley Counties to see who can bring out the most volunteers. This year's cleanup at the falls and along Highway 90 in both directions will be held Saturday April 30th with registration starting at 9:00am at the Cumberland Falls Visitor's Center. Individuals and groups will be provided bags and will work to clean up along Highway 90 concluding with a free cookout for all volunteers at noon. Anyone wanting more information on the effort can visit the PRIDE website at www.kypride.org or call the McCreary County Judge-Executive's office at 376-2413. Other local cleanup efforts are underway including non-profit groups beginning their “litter abatement” pickups in McCreary County this spring.

KSP SEEKING PUBLIC'S HELP IN HIT & RUN ACCIDENT
A 24 year old McCreary County man was struck by a vehicle while walking this past Monday and the driver of that vehicle fled the scene rather than stop to help. Kentucky State Police are reportedly seeking help from the public in identifying and locating the driver involved.
The McCreary County Voice reports that the collision happened on Sandhill Road at about 9:30pm Monday evening when Tony Worley was struck while walking. He was treated at the scene by McCreary County EMS and then airlifted to UT Medical Center in Knoxville. The only description available of the vehicle involved was that it was possible a Pontiac Grand Am or Chevy Impala, but was some sort of smaller size black car. Anyone with information is asked to call Kentucky State Police at 606-878-6622 or the McCreary County Sheriff's Department at 376-2322.

McCREARY OCCUPATIONAL TAX NUMBERS STEADY IN FEBRUARY
The numbers are in and the occupational tax revenue summary for February of this year shows fairly steady numbers as compared to the same month in previous years. Revenue last month came in at $187,888.20, compared to about $199,000 for the same month last year, $137,000 in 2014, a low $85,000 in 2013 and $182,000 in 2012. Of the just over $187,000 collected from the tax last month in McCreary County, about $3,883 was deducted for various expenses including the tax administrator's salary, benefits and office expenses, leaving just over $184,000 to be deposited in the county's General Fund. The tax revenue was once divided into several areas including economic development, ambulance service, jail, and other areas. The county changed that a few years ago upon advice of state auditors and began depositing the full amount in the General Fund to use for county expenses and projects. For more on the McCreary County Occupational Tax you can visit the tax page online at tax.mccrearycounty.com.

McCREARY COUNTY MAGISTRATE TO HOST TOWN HALL MEETING
Following up on a few town hall meetings previously hosted by local magistrates, McCreary County's 3
rd district magistrate, Jason Mann, will host a town hall meeting this Monday March 21st at 6:30pm at the train depot in downtown Stearns. Mann announced the meeting this week saying that a number of county departments will be represented, including the park, tourism and others, to discuss ongoing projects and work that is underway by those departments. Citizens are being invited to attend to learn more about what is going on with county government and to ask questions of the county leaders.

McCREARY REPUBLICAN PARTY TO HOLD COUNTY CONVENTION
Every four years, local political parties are called on to hold local conventions at which they elect their leadership. The McCreary County Republican Party will hold its County Mass Convention this Saturday March 19th at 10:00am at the McCreary County Public Library. The gathering will allow for the election pf precinct and county officers, including the local party chair for the next four years, and delegates to the district and state conventions. All registered Republicans in McCreary County are eligible and invited to attend the county convention this Saturday at 10:00am. The convention is held every four years in the same years as Presidential elections.

VOLUNTEERS SOUGHT FOR SECOND ANNUAL YAMACRAW RUN TRAIL RACES
This will be the second year for an event that was considered a huge success in 2015. The Yamacraw Run started last year with 10k and 50k trail races throughout the Big South Fork, Daniel Boone National Forest and on the Sheltowee Trace National Trail. This year, event organizers have added a 20k race to encourage even more participation. During a recent meeting with local emergency responders to prepare for the race and to be prepared for any possible emergencies associated with the event, race organizer Brian Gajus said that the 20k and 50k legs of the race each have more than 150 participants registered, with the 10k at more than 100. That will mean more than 400 racers, plus their families and spectators, who will be in McCreary County the weekend of April 9th. The race headquarters this year will be downtown Stearns, meaning those passing through Stearns that weekend will see a large number of people and vehicles, highlighting the impact of the event on the local community and local economy.

Volunteers are still being sought to help in various areas of the race, with the number one area to be covered being the various aid stations along the race routes. Volunteers at those locations will make sure racers have water refills, nutrition, are checked in and other assistance for those taking part in the race. To volunteer or find out more about this year's Yamacraw Run on Saturday April 9th, go online to www.runyamacraw.com or look up the Yamacraw Run on Facebook.

KAYAKERS CITED FOR THRILL RIDE OVER CUMBERLAND FALLS
A pair of kayakers went for a thrill ride over Cumberland Falls this past weekend, something that is strongly discouraged by state park officials. It happened Saturday afternoon with a crowd of spectators watching on and the scene was also caught on video and has been shared many times over on social media. The kayakers were cited by state park rangers for trespassing because the river and the falls are posted for no swimming, wading or boating for safety reasons. The men were reportedly not injured in the stunt but now face charges. Cumberland Falls is known for its massive stature as well as for its moonbow and is located on the line between McCreary and Whitley Counties.

McCREARY COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY CELEBRATING 40 YEARS
The McCreary County Public Library began its long tradition of service to the community forty years ago in 1976. With this being the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the library, a special ceremony and celebration has been scheduled for this Thursday March 17th from 3:00-6:00pm. The public is invited to stop by and help the library, its staff and its board celebrate this milestone. The McCreary County Public Library has spent years providing books, videos, audio, periodicals, internet access and other services for the community. The library has an extensive youth and children's program and hosts a number of community meetings on a regular basis. For more information on the library you can stop by on Main Street in downtown Whitley City, call 376-8738, visit www.mccrearylibrary.org or look them up on Facebook.

BIG SOUTH FORK ANNOUNCES PLANS FOR PRESCRIBED BURNS
The Daniel Boone National Forest recently announced plans to conduct controlled burns over the next several weeks in the region to help promote a healthier forest. Now, officials with the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area have announced plans for prescribed burning within park service boundaries. The initial burns scheduled will be on the Tennessee side of the park, according to a press release issued by the Big South Fork this week, and will be conducted as weather conditions permit over the next several weeks. Some trails and park service roads may be closed at times during some burns. For more information on prescribed burns in the Big South Fork, call park headquarters at 423-569-9778.

HISTORIC DISTRICT MOVING AHEAD WITH PLANS TO EXPAND ALCOHOL SALES
A week after McCreary County voters narrowly rejected a measure to allow alcohol sales countywide, the McCreary County Heritage Foundation is moving ahead with plans to expand alcohol sales in the Historic District of Stearns. Voters in the Stearns precinct voted a little over a year ago to allow sales by the drink in the historic district, which at the time included a very small area between Highway 1651 and the railroad tracks including the historic company town buildings and train depot area. The foundation opened its Whistle Stop restaurant last year with the sell of beer and wine included. Since that time, the Stearns Golf Course has been added to the National Registry of Historic Places and is being included in with the Stearns Historic District. Plans are underway to expand alcohol sales to the golf course with an application to apply for a license for that project set to be submitted in the coming weeks. The McCreary County Heritage Foundation posted notice in The McCreary County Voice this past week notifying any interested parties of their intention to apply for the license no later than April 15th.

McCREARY CHAMBER OF COMMERCE TO HEAR FROM FARMERS MARKET
Two McCreary County community organizations will come together this week for lunch, information and support. The McCreary County Chamber of Commerce will hold its regular monthly membership meeting this Wednesday March 16th starting at 12noon upstairs at the McCreary County Public Library. The meeting will include guest speakers from the McCreary County Farmers' Market who will share information about planning for the upcoming season, special events planned and information on getting involved with the market. Knife of the Party Catering, which is a member of the farmers market, will cater lunch for the Chamber meeting this week. For more information on the McCreary County Farmers' Market you can like their page on Facebook, visit farmersmarket.mccrearycounty.com, or e-mail farmersmarket@mccrearycounty.com. The 2016 season of the farmers market is scheduled to open Saturday May 7th.

SOMERSET BUSINESSMAN RUSHED TO HOSPITAL AFTER SHOOTING
A well known Somerset businessman was rushed to the hospital last week after an apparent accidental shooting at his home. Ward Correll call a relative just after midnight last Wednesday morning saying he had shot himself. The relative reportedly contacted authorities who arrived on the scene and found the home locked. After forcing their way inside, they found Correll suffering from the gunshot wound. He was treated at the scene, transported to Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital and then to UK Medical Center in Lexington where he was listed in critical condition. The Pulaski County Sheriff's Department says while they are investigating the incident, they do not believe that foul play was involved as it does appear Correll himself was handling the gun when it fired. Correll is well known for his business ventures in Somerset as well as across the region.

I-75 SOUTH REOPENED IN TENNESSEE FOLLOWING ROCKSLIDE LAST MONTH
Interstate 75 has been virtually shut down just south of the Kentucky-Tennessee state line since last month due to a rockslide near mile marker 142. Now, officials with the Tennessee Department of Transportation have announced that I-75 southbound lanes have reopened to traffic as the clean up and stabilization of the area continues. Northbound traffic will still need to detour off I-75 to avoid the area, as those lanes remain closed. Officials do say they hope to have at least one lane for northbound traffic open again by March 24th. Additional information on the closure and the project can be found online at www.TNSmartWay.com/Traffic.

MCCREARY JOBLESS RATE IMPROVES SLIGHTLY OVER LAST YEAR
The latest numbers are in and McCreary County's unemployment rate has shown some signs of improvement, slight as they may be. In January 2015, McCreary County recorded a 9.6% unemployment rate, which was down two tenths of a percent in January of this year to 9.4%. That was up from December's rate, which was 8.6%. McCreary County's rate was the third highest in the ten county Lake Cumberland district, with Russell County in at 12.3% and Clinton County at 9.8%. The overall rate for the district was 7.6% in January. Kentucky's jobless rate was recorded at 6.2% in January, compared to a 5.3% rate nationwide. For more information on Kentucky's labor market you can visit kylmi.ky.gov.

FOREST SERVICE ANNOUNCES PLANS FOR CONTROLLED BURNS
Officials with the Daniel Boone National Forest have announced plans to conduct controlled burns in the forest over the next couple of months. According to a press release from forest officials, the burns will be conducted to promote healthy forest conditions and will only take place when conditions are right for burning. That includes issues like weather, wind speeds and directions and more. The burns will take place in several counties of the forest over the next couple of months, including McCreary, Laurel, Pulaski, and Leslie Counties. Additional information about local controlled burning plans can be obtained by calling the Stearns Ranger District office at 606-376-5323.

FRUIT/VEGGIE GROWERS ASKED TO SIGN UP FOR DISASTER ASSISTANCE
The Farm Service Agency is encouraging residents in the region to apply for Non-insurable Crop Disaster Assistance. The program allows those covered to have some security against loss of fruits and vegetables. A fee applies for coverage, but some beginning farmers, limited resource participants and socially disadvantaged producers are eligible for a waiving of that fee. The deadline to apply is quickly approaching on Tuesday March 15
th. For information contact the local Farm Service Agency which serves McCreary and Pulaski Counties at 606-678-4842 or e-mail kysomerset-fsa@one.usda.gov.

McCREARY COUNTY LITTLE LEAGUE SIGN-UPS, DRAFT SET
The final days for sign-ups and for the draft for the 2016 season of McCreary County Little League have been set. Registration continues this Saturday March 12th at the Lord's Gym from 10:00am to 2:00pm and will be held next Saturday March 19th prior to the draft which will begin at 10:00am at the Lord's Gym. The draft schedule for next Saturday begins with wee ball and tee ball at 10:00am, when coaches will meet to select teams but players are not required to attend. Also at 10:00am, players in the coach pitch and softball divisions will go through the draft process, followed by 9-10 year olds and 11-12 year olds starting at 12:30pm. There will be a coaches meeting for anyone who will be coaching this season on Saturday March 12th at 4:00pm at the Lord's Gym.

APPARENT MURDER-SUICIDE IN SCOTT COUNTY, TN INVESTIGATED
An apparent murder-suicide from this past weekend is under investigation in neighboring Scott County, Tennessee. The investigation was opened after 63 year old Bonnie Sue Burchfield and her husband, 69 year old Vurscle "Bert" Burchfield, were found dead inside their Winfield home. It happened Saturday afternoon and authorities say that the deaths appear to have happened earlier the same day. Autopsies were conducted on both and the investigation is ongoing as a joint effort of the Scott County Sheriff's Department and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation with assistance from the Winfield Police Department.

BSF HOSTING OPEN HOUSE ON CONTAMINADTED MINE LANDS PLAN
The Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area will be hosting an open house this evening (Thursday March 10
th) from 4:30-6:30pm. The open house is being held to offer information and gather public input on proposed plans to address contaminated mine lands drainage in the park. The open house will be held at the park's Stearns Ranger Station located just off Wilburn K Ross Highway, next to Raider Way, in Stearns. For additional information call the park's headquarters at 423-569-9778.

CUMBERLAND FALLS TO HOST STORYTELLING FESTIVAL THIS WEEKEND
Cumberland Falls State Resort Park will host their annual "Storytelling Festival" this weekend, starting with a ghost walk at the falls Friday evening March 11th at 8:00pm. Other activities will begin at 9:00am Saturday March 12th with registration for the "Liars Competition", followed by storytelling by several acclaimed tale spinners from 10:00am through the evening. There will also be craft vendors on hand to display and sell their handcrafted items. Visitors can attend all weekend sessions for a cost of $20.00, with a weekend package also available which includes lodging, meals and more. For information call 1-800-325-0063 or look up "Cumberland Falls Storytelling Festival" on Facebook.

McCREARY COUNTY VOTERS OPT TO STAY “DRY” IN TUESDAY'S VOTE
Just over a third of McCreary County's voters cast ballots Tuesday March 8
th in the wet/dry vote on legalized alcohol sales in the county. The final tally reported by election officials was 1973 voting “No” and 1941 voting “Yes”, meaning the county will remain officially “dry” when it comes to alcohol sales. Ten of the 18 precincts in the county voted “yes”, but the “no” precincts tallied more overall numbers. The closest precinct was Otter Creek where 26 voted “yes” and 25 voted “no”. The 32 vote margin on the “no” side spells an even closer vote than 2012 when 47 votes separated the margins.

BICYCLIST STRUCK BY HIT & RUN DRIVER IN PULASKI COUNTY
A bicyclist was airlifted from the scene of a hit and run collision Monday evening in Pulaski County, according to authorities. They say 23 year old Terrell Harden of Tennessee was riding on Highway 80 about 15 miles east of Somerset at about 7:15pm when he was struck from behind by a Ford Ranger pickup truck, which then fled the scene. Harden was flown to UK Medical Center in Lexington with serious injuries. Police say the driver of the truck is believed to be an Hispanic male and that the truck may have front end damage. The Pulaski County Sheriff's Department is leading the investigation and ask that anyone with information call their office at 606-678-5145.

McCREARY VOTERS HEAD TO THE POLLS TO SETTLE ALCOHOL ISSUE
Today is the day that the McCreary County voters will head to the polls to settle the alcohol issue locally. After a wet/dry vote was narrowly defeated just over three years ago, in August 2012, the issue has been placed on the ballot again for this special vote after petitions were gathered, turned in and certified with enough legitimate signatures. The question for voters is whether they support legalized alcohol sales in McCreary County, which would be a countywide vote with all 18 precincts locally open for voting. The polls are open today from 6:00am to 6:00pm. Keep in mind you must be a previously registered voter in McCreary County to vote. Political party does not matter in this special referendum vote.

KENTUCKY WOMAN NEARLY DIES FROM DRUG OVERDOSE IN TENNESSEE
Law enforcement officials in Scott County, Tennessee report that a Kentucky woman was near death when she was found in a vehicle during a traffic stop on February 26th. It happened in the Winfield area when officers observed a vehicle make an abrupt turn and executed the traffic stop. Police say 40 year old Ira Shannon Jewell of Strunk, Kentucky, who was driving the vehicle, jumped out of the car and yelled at officers saying the woman inside was not breathing. Officers found Tina Kidd of Kentucky inside and say she was unresponsive. Upon investigation they learned that the woman had apparently taken a cocktail of meth and Fentanyl. Kidd was transported to the hospital in Oneida for treatment and is expected to recover, and will then face drug charges. Other drugs were also found inside the vehicle and Ira Shannon Jewell was arrested at the scene and charged with possession offenses and reckless endangerment with minor injury. Additional charges may be pending according to authorities. The Scott County Sheriff's Department and Oneida Police Department are investigating the case.

HTC URGING HIGH SCHOOL SENIORS TO APPLY FOR SCHOLARSHIP
The deadline to apply for a scholarship through Highland Telephone Cooperative is approaching and HTC is urging area high school seniors to get their application submissions in as soon as possible. The deadline is Friday March 18th at close of business and seniors should submit a 500 word typed essay on “Technology for Telecommunications.” Seniors selected will receive a $1000 scholarship to continue their education after high school. Contact Highland Telephone for details and rules of entry.

KENTUCKY REPUBLICANS SELECT TRUMP AS THEIR CHOICE FOR PRESIDENT
The Kentucky Republican Party hosted its 2016 Presidential Caucus this past Saturday with GOP voters across the state asked to cast their ballots for their choice for Presidential nominee. Donald Trump, considered by most to be the party's front runner, picked up a win in Kentucky with more than 82,000 votes, which was about 10,000 more than his closest competitor, Ted Cruz. Marco Rubio was a distant third place in the state, with John Kasich coming in fourth. The state's delegates will be awarded proportionally, meaning that each of those four active Presidential candidates will pick up some gains from Saturday's caucus. Officials say Trump will claim 17 delegates, while Cruz will be awarded 16, Rubio 7 and Kasich 6 out of Kentucky's 46 total GOP delegates. Trump also won the weekend's primary in Louisiana while Cruz claimed victories in Kansas and Maine.

Locally, McCreary County saw a very low voter turnout Saturday with fewer than 18% of the county's registered Republicans voting. Trump claimed the county with 725 votes, followed by Cruz with 345, Rubio at 132, and Kasich at 111. Despite the fact that they are out of the race at this point, Ben Carson, Mike Huckabee, Jeb Bush and Rand Paul each picked up votes in McCreary County Saturday as well. Four local Republicans took the time to go to the polling place, only to cast their ballot as “uncommitted.”

Republicans can still vote May 17th in the primary for certain offices, such as US Senate, and US Representative, will be not vote at that time for President. Democrats will cast their ballot for President during the May primary.

McCREARY COUNTY VOTERS TO DECIDE WET/DRY ISSUE TUESDAY
All registered voters in McCreary County will have the chance to go to their regular polling places tomorrow (Tuesday March 8th) between 6:00am and 6:00pm to vote “yes” or “no” on whether to allow legalized alcohol sales countywide. If the measure passes, the McCreary County Fiscal Court will then be charged with the responsibility of adopting an ordinance and appointing an Alcoholic Beverage Control Board to oversee the licenses process and regulation of local alcohol sales. Any tax revenue generated from those sales would have to be dedicated to law enforcement, emergency services and educational programs. Anyone with questions regarding their voter eligibility ahead of tomorrow's vote should contact the McCreary County Clerk's Office or you can look up your registration online by visiting elect.ky.gov.

LAST WEEK BUSY, EVENTFUL FOR LOCAL LAW EMFORCEMENT
Last week was busy and eventful for local law enforcement officers in McCreary County. It started last Monday evening when The McCreary County Voice reports that officers attempted to stop a dump truck on US Highway 27 in the northern part of the county when it was reported to be driving recklessly. The truck turned off the main road in the “Tucker Town” area just south of Parkers Lake. The driver of the truck abandoned the vehicle and fled on foot into the woods, leaving a passenger behind. That passenger was questioned by officers and released as they began their search for the driver.

Later in the week, it is reported that Special Deputy Mike Neal was on duty early Friday morning when he was involved in a head on collision with another vehicle. The deputy was reportedly transported to the hospital where he was treated for non-life threatening injuries and released later that day. The cases remain under investigation.

McCREARY COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY TO CELEBRATE 40TH ANNIVERSARY
Forty years ago the McCreary County Public Library was getting its start in the local community and has come a long way in the past four decades. With the move into its current building on Main Street in downtown Whitley City, to renovations of that building, the expansion into a section of the Joe Jackson building and the addition of many services through the years, the library has continued to serve the county. The library, its staff and the community will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the McCreary County Public Library during a special ceremony on Thursday March 17th from 3:00-6:00pm. All library patrons and community members are invited and encouraged to stop by the library to help with the special milestone. For information on the event and the services offered by the McCreary County Public Library you can call 376-8738, visit www.mccrearylibrary.org or look them up on Facebook.

KENTUCKY REPUBLICANS SET TO CAUCUS FOR PRESIDENT SATURDAY
This Saturday, March 5th, Republicans in Kentucky will caucus for their choice for President of the United States. In McCreary County, the only location to vote is the McCreary County Middle School with hours from 10:00am-4:00pm with Republican voters able to stop by at any time during that period. Voters will be able to hear from representatives from the various campaigns before casting their ballot in a similar way as traditional elections. Keep in mind this will be the only day, time and location for McCreary County Republicans to cast a ballot for their choice for Presidential nominee. Republicans will still be able to vote in the May primary for other offices, but will not vote at that time for President. While nearly twenty candidates were originally in the field of Republican candidates for President, current candidates in the mix include Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Donald Trump, John Kasich and Ben Carson. For additional information on the Republican caucus in Kentucky, visit the Republican Party website at www.rpk.org.

PRIDE AWARDS GRANT TO McCREARY EXTENSION COUNCIL
The McCreary County Extension Council was named as a recipient of a $500 grant this week, awarded by Eastern Kentucky PRIDE. The council will use the funds to support their annual Environmental Education Camp which will be held this May at the JM Feltner 4-H Camp in London and will allow 80 seventh graders to attend the three day, two night event. During that time, students learn about the environment and take part in hands-on activities. A total of more than $32,000 was awarded by PRIDe through the grant program to schools and programs across their 42 county service area. PRIDE grants are used by schools and programs to fund projects ranging from recycling programs to outdoor classrooms, nature trails and more. For more information and the complete list of grant recipients, visit the PRIDE website at www.kypride.org.

McCREARY COUNTY TO HOST THREE DAY TIRE AMNESTY EVENT
McCreary County residents with old, unwanted tires will be able to dispose of them free of charge during a three day tire amnesty event this month. Officials have announced the tire amnesty set for Thursday March 17th through Saturday March 19th at the state highway garage in Whitley City. There is no limit on the number of tires that can be disposed of during this event and you do not have to be on garbage service locally to participate, according to information released by local officials. The hours for the free tire disposal will be Thursday March 17th and Friday March 18th during normal business hours and Saturday March 19th until 12noon at the highway garage. The program is sponsored by the Kentucky Division of Waste Management. For additional information, call the McCreary County Judge-Executive's Office at 376-2413.

STATE ANNOUNCES NEW ASSISTANCE APPLICATION PORTAL
Those applying for assistance such as Medicaid, KCHIP, SNAP, KTAP or other forms of government assistance will now have a new way of applying and updating their accounts through an online portal. The announcement came this week by the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, stating that the new service officially launched on Monday February 29th. You will still be able to apply for services by phone or by visiting your local Department for Community Based Service (DCBS) office if you choose, but officials say the online portal gives another option for applicants. Some applications will still require a face-t0-face interview for approval, according to the information. The new portal can be found online at benefind.ky.gov and additional information is also available at chfs.ky.gov/dcbs/dfs.

OFFICIALS ROUTING TRAFFIC AROUND ROCKSLIDE ON I-75
The next several weeks will likely be stressful for motorists who travel along Interstate 75 near the Kentucky-Tennessee state line. This comes after a rock slide has closed a section of I-75 between exits 141 and 160. Traffic is being routed around the area using US 25, but wrecks on the detour Sunday also prompted highway officials to detour commercial vehicles around the detour. Work on the area of the rock slide will take several weeks, according to officials with the Tennessee Department of Traffic (TDOT), with motorists asked to use caution, watch for detours and be prepared for delays as they travel through that area.

McCREARY GRAND JURY RETURNS SEVERAL FEBRUARY INDICTMENTS
This past month's session of the McCreary County Grand Jury included several indictments in cases ranging from thefts to drugs. Randel Stevens of Strunk was indicted on a charge of intimidating a participant in a legal process for allegedly threatening to shoot Kentucky State Police Trooper Craig Reed. This came after Reed had arrested Stevens in December. Strunk resident Leslie Howard was indicted for kidnapping and criminal mischief; Jeffrey Litton of Huntsville, Tennessee was charged with theft of identity and tampering with physical evidence, as well as operating a motor vehicle under the influence and operating a motor vehicle on a suspended or revoked license. Also indicted by the grand jury was William Califf of Corbin for possession of a controlled substance first degree and possession of drug paraphernalia, related to the alleged possession of meth and a needle. Ricky Stephens of Harrodsburg was indicted for driving under the influence; Misty Murphy was indicted for trafficking in a controlled substance, possession and driving under the influence; Reggie Dawson was charged with receiving stolen property; and Steven Jones was charged with possession of a controlled substance and fleeing or evading police. The final indictment listed by the grand jury this past month was against Anita Roark of Winfield for bail jumping first degree. Listeners are reminded that an indictment by the grand jury is a formal charge in a case but is not a finding of guilt.

WHITLEY CITY MAN CHARGED IN DECEMBER SHOOTING INCIDENT
The case involving a McCreary County man who allegedly fled from officers, pointed a gun at then, and was then shot in the incident, was heard by a local grand jury this month. The McCreary County Voice reports that 46 year old Anthony Murphy of Whitley City was indicted on counts of wanton endangerment first degree, for creating the incident which posed a threat of injury or death to officers who responded to the call on December 8th. Murphy was accused of first trying to flee from officers through a wooded area and then of turning on those officers, pulling a gun and attempting to fire. Reports indicated the gun jammed and that officers returned fire striking Murphy. Listeners are reminded that an indictment by the grand jury is a formal charge in a case, but is not a finding of guilt.

MCCREARY COUNTY PARK GEARING UP FOR EASTER EVENT
It has become an annual event at the McCreary County Park, and “Easter in the Park” for this year has been set for Saturday March 26th. The event will run from 11:00am-4:00pm and will be held rain or shine, although many activities will be held outside if weather permits. Activities will include a visit with the Easter Bunny, community egg hunt, inflatables, concessions and more. Local churches, businesses or individuals who would like to take part in some way are invited to contact Melissa at the park at 376-7275 or e-mail melissa@mccrearycounty.com.

KENTUCKY UTILITIES WARNING CUSTOMERS ABOUT CURRENT SCAM
Scam artists are working overtime these days trying to take your money by fraud. We hear more and more about scams and Kentucky Utilities is the latest company to issue a warning to their customers. Reports have been received by the company about scam artists calling about past due bills and claiming that if the bill was not paid immediately, their service would be disconnected. The scam artists have taken their act to a new level with this latest scam by using recordings of actual KU automated calls to create their call, making it seem that much more like a real, legitimate call from KU. Kentucky Utilities customers should remember that they have several payment options, so if a caller demands payment through a specific method you should use caution and avoid giving any personal or account information out over the phone. You can check with the company to confirm that a call came from them by calling 1-800-981-0600.

Other recent scams reported around the region include the IRS scam, where a caller claims to be with the Internal Revenue Service and claims that payment on a past due tax bills must be made immediately. Other scams include lottery scams where the victim is told they have won a prize but must pay a fee to receive that prize.

BIG SOUTH FORK OPENS SECOND ANNUAL PHOTO CONTEST
For the second consecutive year, the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area is accepting entries for their photo contest. Digital images will be accepted in several categories now through July 22nd, giving plenty of time for area photographers to catch striking images, gather them and submit them for the contest. Categories include “Action/Adventure”, “Artistic”, “Flora & Fauna”, “Cultural”, “Kentucky Landscapes”, “Tennessee Landscapes”, and “Youth” entries. Entries will be judged with selected images printed for exhibit at the Bandy Creek Visitor Center starting in early September. Images will also be displayed online and at other venues throughout the fall. For complete information and contest rules you cam visit the Big South Fork park website at www.nps.gov/biso with entries to be e-mailed to biso_information@nps.gov or mailed to park headquarters at 4564 Leatherwood Road, Oneida, TN 37841. For information you can also call 423-286-7275.

2016 EARLY CHILDHOOD PROFILES RELEASED FOR STATE, McCREARY COUNTY
The Governor's Office of Early Childhood this week released the 2016 Early Childhood Profiles for the state and individual counties. The data provides information to help local and state leaders in early childhood development asses challenges, strengths and weaknesses within their community and across Kentucky. Officials say the study shows that only about 50% of all children in the state are ready when they enter kindergarten. McCreary County did not fair that well as the study shows only about 39.2% of children are ready to enter school. The trend over the past three years shows some improvement, from about 33% in 2013-2014, while the state's readiness level has stayed steady at about half.

Other data included in the profile shows that McCreary County lags behind the state in various educational areas including math and reading. The county is nearly even with state averages in areas such as language development, physical development, and social/emotional development. McCreary County records more than 65% of its children living at or below 200% of the poverty level with 21.6% being born to mothers without a high school education and more than 10% being raised by a grandparent.

More information on the 2016 Early Childhood Profiles, as well as individual county profiles, can be found online at kcews.ky.gov then click on “Reports” under the “Data and Reports” tab.

McCREARY COUPLE HONORED DURING GOVERNOR'S PRAYER BREAKFAST
A McCreary County couple received an honor during this year's Governor's Prayer Breakfast held Tuesday at the Convention Center in Frankfort. Barb and Hilton Duncan were the recipients of the William Cooper Faith and Community in Action Award for their many years of providing food, clothing, shelter and education to low income residents of southern and eastern Kentucky. The couple has been involved in the work for about 17 years according to information released as part of the award presentation. The award is named for Rev. William Jefferson Cooper of Westport, who founded the governor's breakfast event, which is now in its 50th year. Governor Mat Bevin spoke at the event, and the keynote speaker was Kentucky Men's Basketball Coach John Calipari.

McCREARY COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD SELECTS CASH TO LEAD DISTRICT
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.

McCREARY SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER ISSUES RESPONSE TO INVESTIGATION
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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