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LOCAL OBITUARIES
 
Orange Nadine Jones age 73 of Greenwood, wife of Porter Jones, passed away Thursday May 26, 2016. Funeral services will be Saturday at 1:00PM at McCreary County Funeral Home with burial in Cooper Creek Cemetery. Visitation will be Saturday after 11:00AM at the funeral home. McCreary County Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
Billy Ray Daugherty age 68, husband of Thelma Daugherty, passed away Saturday May 21, 2016. Funeral services will be Sunday at 1:00PM at Pine Knot Funeral Home with burial in Pine Knot Memorial Gardens. Visitation will be Saturday after 6:00PM at the funeral home. Pine Knot Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
 
DAILY NEWS UPDATES
 

McCREARY SCHOOLS TO DISMISS EARLY FINAL DAYS OF THE YEAR
With only a few days remaining in the school year for the students and staff of the McCreary County School District, Superintendent Mike Cash has announced that school will dismiss early the final two days of the year. Schools will dismiss students at 1:00pm Thursday June 2nd and Friday June 3rd due to additional instruction hours that were built into the school year calendar to use for any early dismissals or missed days needed. Additionally, there will be no school this coming Monday in McCreary County for Memorial Day.

LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICIALS ANNOUNCE “CLICK IT OR TICKET” CAMPAIGN
With Memorial Day weekend set to begin, law enforcement officials across Kentucky are gearing up to help make the roadways safer and are using their participation in the nationwide campaign known as “Click It or Ticket” to help in that effort. The Kentucky Office of Highway Safety and the Kentucky State Police have announced that the effort is already underway and will continue through this holiday weekend, next week and next weekend, ending Sunday June 5th. Police will be focusing on a number of traffic violations including failure to wear seatbelts, speeding and driving under the influence, but the national effort this year has a special emphasis on pickup trucks. Studies show the use of seatbelts is lowest in pickup trucks at only about 79%, compared to about 86.7% overall. Of the 761 highway fatalities in Kentucky last year, authorities say 61% of the fatalities involving motor vehicles were unrestrained occupants who were killed. Additional patrols and traffic checkpoints will be used by law enforcement through the effort, with special focus on the holiday weekend which will run through Monday night.

BIG SOUTH FORK CONTINUES THEIR CENTENNIAL CHALLENGE HIKES
The Centennial Challenge hikes, being held all this year to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the creation of the National Park Service, will continue in the Big South Fork this Memorial Day holiday weekend. The next challenge hike is this Saturday may 28th along the Rock Creek Loop. You can join Park Ranger Mary Grimm for the strenuous 7.1 mile hike which will take all day and passes the gently flowing Massey Branch and Rock Creek with rock houses and large boulders to be seen along the way. Visitors can join the hike by meeting at the trailhead at 10:00am Saturday morning. Take Highway 154 and turn on Divide Road, then look for the Hattie Blevins Cemetery sign. The Rock Creek trailhead is at the end of the road. For additional information, call the Bandy Creek Visitor Center at 423-286-7275 or visit www.nps.gov/biso. The hike is free to join, but participants are reminded it will be a strenuous all day hike. You should bring water and snacks with you and dress appropriately for the weather.

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

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

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

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

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

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

McCREARY RELAY FOR LIFE BRINGS IN $21,000+ FOR CANCER FIGHT
The annual Relay for Life in McCreary County wrapped up with the main event this past weekend at Sandhill RV Camp. While the weather was not ideal for the event, with windy, rainy, cool weather around the area on Saturday for the all day event, organizers still say that the days activities were enjoyed by a good crowd. The event included the traditional survivor's lap, lighting of luminaries, and live music. The Relay for Life was moved to Sandhill Camp this year in large part due to concerns over weather. Sandhill Camp offers an large shelter for events to be held rain or shine. McCreary County's 2016 Relay for Life brought in $21,651 for the American Cancer Society's fight against cancer, according to Brooke Whitis, regional field representative for the American Cancer Society.

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

PULASKI COUNTY WOMAN PLEADS GUILTY IN 2015 MURDER
A Pulaski County woman was in court this past Friday where she entered a guilty plea to the charges of theft and tampering with physical evidence. Amanda Braddock was originally charged with complicity to commit murder in connection with the disappearance and murder of Edward Vanwormer last September. That man was eventually located under newly poured concrete at his own home after tips led police to his son, Jedidiah Vanwormer and Amanda Braddock. The pair had later fled the area and were arrested in North Carolina. Vanwormer is facing murder charges in connection with the case.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

McCREARY COUNTY RELAY FOR LIFE SET FOR THIS SATURDAY
The 2016 Relay for Life in McCreary County will see some changes as compared to previous years. Those attending the event in the past have been used to activities at the McCreary Central High School football field and track, but this year's event will be moved to the Sandhill RV Camp on Highway 700. The Relay for Life, which raises money and awareness for the American Cancer Society and the fight against cancer, will be held this Saturday May 21st with opening ceremonies beginning at 12noon and activities continuing through the afternoon and evening to midnight. The traditional survivor's lap will be included in the schedule at 7:00pm Saturday evening along with the lighting of luminaries to honor those who have battled cancer just after dark. There will also be live music and concessions throughout the day, along with a silent auction to help raise money for the effort. Organizers emphasize that the event will be held rain or shine on Saturday at Sandhill Camp. Information on McCreary County's Relay for Life can be obtained by calling Freddie Patrick, local event chairman, at 606-310-1242 or by contacting Brooke Whitis with the American Cancer Society at 606-678-0203 or by e-mailing brooke.whitis@cancer.org.

SCENIC RAILWAY TAKING PART IN “KIDS TO PARKS DAY” THIS SATURDAY
This Saturday May 21st is “Kids to Parks” Day, which is a nationwide day of outdoor play in parks sponsored by the National Park Trust. Locally, the Big South Fork Scenic Railway is taking part by offering a special discounted rate to ride for kids on Saturday. The train runs from historic Stearns to Blue Heron Mining Camp, which is operated by the Big South Fork. Discounted rate applies for Saturday only with tickets purchased in person. For information call the Big South Fork Scenic Railway at 376-5330 or visit www.bsfsry.com. For more on “Kids to Parks” Day, visit
www.kidstoparks.org.

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

HIGH SCHOOL BASEBALL, SOFTBALL DISTRICT TOURNAMENTS SET
The 48th district high school baseball and softball tournament schedules have been set for this year, with both McCreary Central teams to play this coming Monday May 23rd. The Raiders baseball team will hit the field at Wayne County, playing the host school, Monday night at 7:00pm. The winner will take on Southwestern Pulaski on their home field in the district championship at 8:00pm Tuesday May 24th. The Lady Raiders will play at Southwestern Monday night where they will take on Wayne County at 7:00pm. The winner of that game will play Southwestern on their home field at 7:00pm next Tuesday in the girls' championship game.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LOCAL AMERICAN LEGION POST SEEKS HELP AHEAD OF MEMORIAL DAY
American Legion Post 115 in Stearns is seeking help from the local community to honor veterans who have passed on this Memorial Day. The legion is asking citizens of McCreary County to help distribute American flags on the graves of veterans at cemeteries throughout the county prior to Memorial Weekend, which is now less than two weeks away. You can pick up flags and a checklist of veterans and cemeteries at the American Legion post on West Highway 92 in Stearns. Organizers of the effort also say if you are out distributing flags and see a veteran's grave that is not on the list, place a flag on the grave and add it to the list. Old flags should also be returned to the legion for proper retirement. For more information or to help honor veterans this Memorial Day, contact the American Legion Post in Stearns.

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

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

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

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

These cases remain under investigation by local law enforcement.

KENTUCKY PREPARING TO HEAD TO THE POLLS FOR THE PRIMARY
Voters in Kentucky will have the chance to head to the polls tomorrow (Tuesday May 17th) to cast votes in a couple of races for each political party. Republicans already cast ballots for their choice for President in Kentucky, but will vote in the US Senate and US Representative race. GOP candidates for US Senate include incumbent Rand Paul, challenged by Stephen Howard Slaughter and James R. Gould. Longtime Republican Congressman Hal Rogers is seeking re-election and is challenged in the primary by John Burk, Jr. On the Democratic side, voters will cast a ballot for their choice for Presidential nominee where names will include Martin O'Malley, Bernard “Bernie” Sanders, Hillary Clinton, and Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente. There is also an option to select “uncommitted” for Presidential nominee for Democrats, who will also vote for their choice for US Senate. Candidates there will include Tim Recktenwald, Grant T. Short, Sellus Wilder, Jim Gray, Rory Houlihan, Jeff Kender and Ron Leach. Polls will be open from 6:00am to 6:00pm local time for voters on Tuesday May 17th. Keep in mind, those registered as “Independent” or “other” will not be eligible to vote in the primary. For information on the election or voter registration, contact the McCeary County Clerk's Office or go online to www.elect.ky.gov.

McCREARY COUNTY YOUTH ENCOURAGED TO APPLY FOR 4-H CAMP
It is the time of year for McCreary County youth and their parents to begin planning for 4-H camp for this summer. Local youth will go to camp in London, Kentucky June 13th through 16th and the cost this year is $125 per child to attend camp. Through fundraising efforts, that fee is down from the regular rate of nearly $200 per child. The fee includes meals, lodging, activities, transportation and other costs involved with the camp. Applications are being taken now for youth wanting to attend camp. You should register soon before all available spaces are filled. For information or to apply contact the McCreary County Extension Service at 376-2524 or stop by their office in the McCreary Center of Somerset Community College.

6 YEAR OLD BOY LEFT ALONE AT WINFIELD PARK, PARENTS ARRESTED
Authorities in neighboring Scott County, Tennessee report the arrest this week of a couple in Winfield on drug charges, as well as child neglect. The case began when a six year old boy was found wandering alone and dirty at the Winfield City Park on Monday. Social services stepped in, took custody of the child and notified law enforcement. Police say the child told them that his parents sometimes leave him alone in the park when they want to go places alone. Officers went to the family's home at Slaven's Trailer Park in Winfield where they found the boy's mother, 37 year old Christina Lynn Goodman, passed out and the father, 38 year old Jason Goodman, also under the influence. Both were charged with possession of a schedule III controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia and child neglect. The case remains under investigation by the Scott County Sheriff's Department.

PULASKI COUNTY COUPLE KILLED WHEN STRUCK BY TRAIN
A walk along the train tracks Tuesday evening turned into a tragic night when a Pulaski County couple died after being struck by a train. Authorities say 27 year old Darrell Phelps and 26 year old Chelsie Phelps were walking along the tracks when they may have become confused about the direction the train was traveling, and may have even switched from walking on one set of tracks to another, which turned out to be a fatal mistake. The train struck the couple, with Chelsie Phelps pronounced dead at the scene and Darrell Phelps taken to the hospital where he was later pronounced dead. The accident happened at about 7:00pm Tuesday.

23rd ANNUAL MASTER MUSICIANS FESTIVAL SET FOR THIS JULY
For the twenty-third consecutive year, the Master Musicians Festival will be held this summer in Somerset, Kentucky. The lineup this year includes Americana greats like Josh Ritter, James McMurtry and Nick Dittmeier and the Sawdusters, along with Bluegrass master Dale Ann Bradley and others including Misty Mountain String Band and the Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band. The two day event will be held Friday July 8th and Saturday July 9th with all day music both days on festival field on the campus of Somerset Community College. Tickets are available for purchase now and you can find more information on the Master Musicians Festival Facebook page or at www.mastermusiciansfestival.org.

McCREARY COUNTY FISCAL COURT PREPARING FOR TIGHT BUDGET
The McCreary County Fiscal Court will meet in regular session this evening (Thursday May 12th) at 6:00pm and will officially begin the process of approving a new budget, to go into effect July 1st. The court traditionally holds the first reading of the draft budget at their May session and then gives final approval to the plan prior to June 30th. The jail's portion of the budget always has a significant impact on the overall budget, but this year county leaders will see an even greater impact, at least according to preliminary numbers. Court members were presented with a draft jail budget last month with total projected expenses to exceed $1,000,000. Looking back at previous county budgets, the jail portion came in at just $651,000 in 2013-2014, up to $699,000 in 2014-2015 and then to $747,000 in 2015-2016. Those were the budgeted numbers at the start of each year, not necessarily what was actually spent on jail expenses during those fiscal years. Now, the jump to more than $1 million means that jail expenses essentially control what money is left for other departments and projects in county government. Furthermore, any lingering question over whether McCreary County would save money, spend the same amount, or possible spend more without a jail of its own, can now be put to rest by simply looking at the numbers over the last several years. In addition, the county is without the jobs that were created by having a jail locally, and with no real sign of movement toward trying to open a jail locally again, it is likely the issue, and the drain on the county budget, will only get worse.

Another issue likely to come up in budget discussions by the McCreary County Fiscal Court is what to do with the now two vacant positions of economic development director and tourism director. The court abolished the economic development director position about a year ago, but have discussed trying to fill the post in some capacity. The tourism director position was cut to part time about a year ago and is now vacant as of last week.

The McCreary County Fiscal Court will meet in regular session this evening at 6:00pm upstairs at the McCreary County Courthouse.

McCREARY REPUBLICANS HOSTING LINCOLN DINNER IN STEARNS
The McCreary County Republican Party will host its annual Lincoln Day Dinner this evening (Thursday May 12th) at 6:00pm at Heritage Hall Community Center in downtown Stearns. The event will include dinner and guest speaker State Senator Max Wise, who is including the event as part of his town hall meeting schedule this week. Of course, citizens who do not identify as Republicans, or do not plan to pay for the ticket to attend the Republican party event, will miss out on speaking with their elected state senator, making it less a town hall and more a straight partisan event for Wise. Additional information on the event can be found by looking it up on Facebook.

OFFICIALS SAY WOMAN'S CAUSE OF DEATH ON LAKE WAS DROWNING
Officials investigating the weekend death of an Ohio woman on Lake Cumberland say the preliminary results from her autopsy Monday show that drowning was most likely the cause of the death. The Russell County Coroner's Office announced the findings and said that they are still awaiting toxicology test results to see if that sheds any additional light on the case. 52 year old Wendy Augustine went missing off a houseboat on Lake Cumberland with her body found after two days of searching this past weekend.

SOMERSET MAN FOUND DEAD INSIDE WAYNE COUNTY CAVE
A man's body was discovered lifeless inside a Wayne County cave Sunday evening, but authorities say there were no obvious signs of trauma. 57 year old Anthony Wayne Erisman of Somerset was pronounced dead at the scene by the Wayne County Coroner. Officials say the man had a cabin near the cave. He was reported missing Sunday morning and crews spent the day searching for him, finding his body just before 9:00pm. The body was located about 200 feet inside the cave entrance and was sent to Frankfort for an autopsy. At this time, investigators say foul play is not suspected.

E-MAIL SCAM REPORTED WITH WARNING BY HIGHLAND TELEPHONE
Highland Telephone Cooperative issued a warning this week to their customers via e-mail to watch for an e-mail scam that is reportedly circulating. According to the warning, e-mails are being received from USAA.Web.Services@customeremail.usaa.com and ask the recipient to confirm their pending e-payment. Highland officials note that this e-mail is a scam and they say you should not click on any links within the e-mail or provide any personal or account information. A good rule is to never supply personal information to a request which you have not initiated.

McCREARY SCHOOLS SEEKING NEW BOYS' BASKETBALL COACH
After previously reporting that Coach Robert Jones was stepping down as head coach of the boys' basketball team and girls' volleyball squad at McCreary Central High School, the local school district has now officially posted the boys' basketball position to be filled. According to the posting on the school district website, the position of boys' basketball coach at McCreary Central High School is now open for applications to be submitted as of last Friday May 6th. At last check, the girls' volleyball coaching post had not yet been posted. Jones will remain Athletic Director for the school district. For more on open positions and applying for positions in the McCreary County School District, visit the website www.mccreary.k12.ky.us and then click on “Employment”.

McCREARY COUNTY GRAND JURY RETURNS 8 INDICTMENTS IN APRIL
The April session of the McCreary County Grand Jury included several cases of flagrant non-support. Indictment on that charge were Dustin Baltimore of Whitley City, Robbie Godsey of Whitley City,and Julie Richardson of Strunk. Other indictments handed down by the grand jury included charges against Jimmy Troxell of Parkers Lake for criminal possession of a forged instrument for allegedly presenting forged checks for more than $950 and theft by deception for cashing additional checks knowing that funds were not available in an account. Ronald Grundy of Whitley City was indicted for failure to comply with sex offender registration for not reporting a change of address to authorities. An indictment was returned against Thomas Smart of Stearns for possession of a controlled substance first degree, while Tex Monroe and Larry Myers of Pine Knot were charged with trafficking in a controlled substance first degree. Monroe was also charged with tampering with physical evidence and being a persistent felony offender. Listeners are reminded that an indictment by the grand jury is not a finding of guilt, but is a formal charge in a case.

WHITLEY CO. MAN CHARGED WITH DRUG OFFENSES, CHILDREN INVOLVED
The Whitley County Sheriff's Department reports the arrest of a man this past Sunday on drug charges with children also involved in the case. They say 29 year old Derek Christopher Mills was found unresponsive in a vehicle with two children under age 10 also present. A search of the vehicle resulted in drugs including methamphetamine being found inside. Mills was arrested and charged with a variety of offenses including trafficking in a controlled susbtance, wanton endangerment, possession of drug paraphernalia, and possession of drugs, along with public intoxication. Social services were also called to the scene where they took custody of the children. The case remains under investigation.

DEADLINE APPROACHING ON CHAMBER OF COMMERCE SCHOLARSHIP
The McCreary County Chamber of Commerce is offering local high school seniors the chance to compete for a $500 scholarship to help them further their education after high school graduation, but the deadline to apply is quickly approaching. The deadline is this Thursday May 12th with applications and an essay of between 300-500 words to be submitted to the Chamber for consideration. The essay should address the following 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? If negative, what would you do to improve it?” Applicants should also include at least two letters of recommendation and have a minimum 2.5 GPA. Application packets can be submitted to: McCreary County Chamber of Commerce, PO Box 548, Whitley City, KY 42653.

AUTHORITIES FIND BODY OF MISSING WOMAN ON LAKE CUMBERLAND
A weekend outing turned into a search for a missing woman on Lake Cumberland this past weekend. Authorities reported that the search began after 52 year old Wendy Augustine of West Chester, Ohio was reported missing. She was last seen aboard a houseboat at the state dock of Lake Cumberland in Russell County at about 12:40am central time early Saturday. Crews searched for two days and brought in a dive team from Boone County to assist in the effort. Augustine's body was found late Sunday afternoon with the body identified by family members. The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife is investigating the water fatality.

WHITLEY COUNTY MAN CHARGED WITH ATTEMPTED KIDNAPPING
A Whitley County man landed behind bars last week in connection with a claim that he attempted to kidnap a family member and hold them for ransom. Investigators say they arrested 49 year old Doyle Fox after the accusations came out that he had allegedly tried to kidnap a family member's child in an attempt to demand a ransom payment. Fox has been charged with kidnapping conspiracy and theft by extortion of more than $10,000 in the case. He was actually already in jail on other charges when police served him with the new charges. He has entered a not guilty plea and the case will be sent to a grand jury for possible action.

HIGHLAND TELEPHONE ANNOUNCES 2016 SCHOLARSHIP WINNERS
Highland Telephone Cooperative announced late last week the winners of their annual scholarship award for area high school seniors to further their education next school year. Locally, Amazing Grace Bradley won the award for the “376” exchange, as it Codey Phillips, both seniors at McCreary Central High School. There was apparently no winner in the “354” exchange from McCreary County, according to the news release from Highland Telephone. Scott County winners included Carline Cotton, Jenna Bridges, Chloe Newport, and Megan Yancey, while winners from Morgan County included Chelsea Smith, Nathaniel Thorne, Macayla Davidson, and Kelsi Walters. Each year, Highland Telephone awards a $1,000 scholarship to a student for each of the HTC board members. Formal presentation of the awards is planned for next Monday May 16th.

McCREARY PROPERTY ASSESSMENT DATABASE OPEN FOR INSPECTION
It is that time of year when the McCreary County Property Valuation Administrator's office opens the local property assessment database for public inspection. This is the opportunity for local property owners to view their assessment to see at what level their property is valued, which is what determines their property tax bill amount that will come out later this year. The database is open for inspection daily from 9;00am to 4:00pm, excluding Sundays, through Monday May 16th at the PVA's office in the McCreary County Courthouse. Taxpayers wishing to appeal the assessment value of their property must first request a conference with any PVA staff by completing the necessary form at the office. Property owners may then appeal to the local board of assessment appeals in writing by filing with the McCreary County Clerk's Office no later than close of business on Tuesday May 17th. That appeals board is tentatively set to meet in mid-June to hear any appeals claims. For additional information on inspection of the property assessment database or appeals, contact the McCreary County PVA's office during normal business hours.

SOUTH McCREARY FIRE DEPARTMENT PUTS NEW ENGINE ON THE STREETS
The South McCreary Fire Department in Pine Knot recently put a new fire engine truck on the streets after it arrived from the assembly plant in Pennsylvania, according to The McCreary County Voice. The newspaper reports that the engine project has been nearly a year in the making between financing and designing of the new vehicle and equipment. Engine 7 joined the service officially about a week ago and will assist the volunteer firefighter crew that covers the southern end of the county in carrying out their duty to protect and save property and lives. In addition, the fire house itself is being improved with a second floor addition that is currently being added, thanks to a state grant received by the department. It will consist of a training room and work out facilities to help the firefighters better prepare to carry out those duties.

SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS BLAST REGION WEDNESDAY EVENING
A line of severe thunderstorms blasted through the region late Wednesday afternoon and Wednesday evening, dropping heavy rains and hail as it passed. Some minor damage reports were expected with some downed trees, and power outages were reported by both South Kentucky RECC and Kentucky Utilities Company in McCreary County. By early Thursday morning, crews with both companies had worked hours but had restored power to all customers locally. The forecast moving forward shows a continued chance of rain today (Thursday May 5
th) as well as a slight chance of rain and storms late Saturday and through Sunday.

WHITLEY COUNTY MAN KILLED IN TUESDAY EVENING ATV CRASH
A man is dead following a Tuesday evening ATV crash in Whitley County. The sheriff's department there says that 43 year old Tracy Davenport was operating an all terrain vehicle on Black Oak Road at about 8:00pm Tuesday when he reportedly wrecked. He was pronounced dead at the scene by the Whitley County Coroner's office. Investigators say they believe speed may have been involved in the fatal crash, which is being investigated by the Whitley County Sheriff's Department.

McCREARY GOP TO HOST LINCOLN DAY DINNER; SEN. MAX WISE TO ATTEND
The McCreary County Republican Party has done little to publicize the event, but will host their annual Lincoln Day Dinner next Thursday May 12th at 6:00pm. This comes after the dinner was originally scheduled earlier this year but had to be postponed with local party officials citing health issues and weather. State Senator Max Wise announced Monday that he will be holding a series of town hall meetings in the 16th district, including one at the local Lincoln Day Dinner where he will apparently speak and answer questions from local Republicans. Senator Wise will also be in Clinton County for a town hall on May 9th; Taylor County on May 10th, Adair County on May 12th; Russell County on May 13th; Cumberland County on May 13th; and Wayne County on May 19th. The McCreary County Republican Party Lincoln Day Dinner will be held at the Heritage Hall Community Center in downtown Stearns on Thursday May 12th at 6:00pm, the exact day and time of the next McCreary County Fiscal Court meeting.

KENTUCKY ELECTION OFFICIALS GEARING UP FOR MAY 17TH PRIMARY
In less than two weeks, voters in Kentucky will head to the polls to vote in the May 17th Primary Election. Polls will be open that Tuesday from 6:00am to 6:00pm local time at precincts across the state, including the eighteen precincts in McCreary County. Democrats will be voting for their choice for Presidential nominee, along with voting in races like US Senate and US Representative. Republicans will not see the Presidential race on their ballot as they have already taken part in a GOP Caucus in March. According to the Kentucky Board of Elections calendar for this year, today (May 4th) marks the first day that voters may request a paper absentee ballot for a medical emergency. Applications are also already being accepted for absentee ballots from those who will be out of town on Election Day or have another accepted reason for not voting May 17th. The last day to apply for a mail-in absentee will be next Tuesday may 10th with all absentee ballots due back in to the county clerk's office by the end of the day on May 17th. For additional information on absentee voting, precinct locations, voter eligibility or other election issues, you can contact the McCreary County Clerk's Office at 376-2411, or online at www.mccrearycountyclerk.com, or visit the Board of Elections site at www.elect.ky.gov. Remember that Kentucky holds a closed primary which means only Democrats can vote for Democrats and only Republicans can vote for Republicans. Independents and those registered as “other” are not eligible to vote in the May Primary but can vote in the November General Election.

SCOTT COUNTY AUTHORITIES INVESTIGATING BEATING OF 8 MONTH OLD
Authorities in Scott County, Tennessee are reportedly investigating the details behind the apparent beating of an 8 month old child. The Scott County Sheriff's Department has told media sources that they are investigating after posts and pictures on social medial showed the child with bruises and other injuries. The posts also accused a particular individual of beating the child, but at last report there had been no arrests reported. Investigators seem to indicate that while some in the public are upset that no arrests have been made to date, law enforcement officials must thoroughly investigate and determine that they have sufficient evidence to prosecute a case before making an arrest. Additional details of the investigation were not being released.

CUMBERLAND FALLS POOL COULD STILL OPEN IN 2016
Announcements came out a few weeks ago that the swimming pool at Cumberland Falls State Resort Park would not open this year due to major repairs needed for the pool. Now, state officials say that money to complete those repairs has been included in the state budget for this year. A total $18 million budget for repairs and improvements at state parks in Kentucky was signed into the state budget by Governor Matt Bevin, which includes $150,000 for the pool at Cumberland Falls. Officials say they hope to have the work completed by this August and the pool open, at least for some time, this year. With no public swimming pool in McCreary County, the pool at Cumberland Falls is the closest to many local residents, especially those in the northern part of the county.

McCREARY FORESTRY TEAM TAKES HOME TOP HONORS AT STATE LEVEL
The McCreary Central High School Forestry Team, part of the Agriculture and FFA programs at the high school, recently took home top honors at state level compeition. MCHS Principal Sharon Ross Privett highlighted the accomplishment during an e-mail she sent our Friday to her distribution list, which includes parents, staff and other interested parties. The e-mail states that the forestry team were named state champs and will go to national competition in Indianapolis, Indiana in the fall. The team consists of Tayshon Yancey, Shane Meadows, Timmy Perry and Colby King, along with teacher and advisor Cameron Lee. Tayshon Yancey took first place individual while Shane Meadows took third place individual at the state competition.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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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