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State releases annual county unemployment data for 2023

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WMDJ) — New statistics say the annual unemployment rates increased in 80 Kentucky counties in 2023, decreased in 22 and stayed the same in 18 counties.

 

The annual jobless rate for Woodford County was the lowest in the commonwealth in 2023 at 3.1%.

 

Magoffin County recorded the state’s highest annual unemployment rate in 2023 at 9.8%. It was followed by Martin County, 8.3%; Elliott County, 8.2% and Lewis County, 8%.

Weekend UTV accident claims the life of Pike County man

MCCARR, Ky. (WMDJ) – A Pike County man died following an UTV accident over the weekend in McCarr.

 

Kentucky State Police responded to a call at 11:39 p.m. Saturday night with reports that an UTV collision had occurred on KY Route 1056.

 

Dalton Mounts, 29, of Freeburn, was operating a Polaris Razor when the UTV exited the roadway and overturned. Michael Sincell, 28, of Freeburn, a passenger in the UTV was pronounced deceased on scene by the Pike County Coroner’s Office. The investigation is ongoing by KSP Accident Reconstructionist, Detective Joshua Scott.

 

Detective Scott was assisted on scene by Kentucky State Police Post 9 personnel and STAT Ambulance Service.

Monday is the deadline to vote in May Primary Election

FLOYD COUNTY, Ky. (WMDJ) – The deadline to vote in the primary election is Monday, April 22nd.

 

Registration can be completed either online or in person at a local county clerk’s office until 4 p.m. this afternoon. The website to register online is Elect.ky.gov.

 

The Primary election is May 21st.

Gov. Beshear to make economic trip to Europe this week

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WMDJ) – Gov. Andy Beshear has announced he is taking an economic development trip to further support job growth. Gov. Beshear will travel this week to Germany and Switzerland to meet with leaders at existing Kentucky companies and businesses considering future investment in the United States.

 

“As we continue to build on our record economic momentum of the past few years, it is critical that we continue to nurture partnerships with our existing employers and also develop new relationships with successful companies around the globe,” Gov. Beshear said. “This visit will provide a valuable opportunity for us to continue to share the message that there is no better place to do business in the United States than right here in the commonwealth.”

 

Kentucky set a new record as jobs grew by 9,400 in March.

 

Kentucky has nearly 540 internationally owned operations that employ more than 117,000 people statewide. 

State Auditor Ball finds improper financial activity in Elkhorn City government

Frankfort, Ky. – State Auditor Allison Ball released the results of a special examination of Elkhorn City, her office announced Wednesday. The examination, which differs from a standard financial audit, covers the City's activities between July 1, 2020, and March 31, 2023.


“This special examination was initiated after we received reports of improper financial activity in Elkhorn City government," Auditor Ball said. “This report will provide a clear path forward for the Elkhorn City leaders to restore order in their finances so that tax dollars can be used to best serve the community."

Special Examination Findings Include:
 

  • Elkhorn City failed to pay required employer contributions totaling $116,555 to the Kentucky Public Pension Authority for City employee pensions.
  • The City failed to file required reports with the Department for Local Government, causing the Department to withhold more than $50,000 in state grant dollars.
  • On numerous occasions, City employees' paychecks were unpaid due to insufficient funds in the City's bank account.
  • $89,276 of Local Government Economic Assistance Fund dollars were spent without documentation.
  • Elkhorn City impermissibly issued Christmas bonuses to employees, totaling $17,948.
  • The City's water utility billing and collection process resulted in 245 water utility customers with past due balances, totaling $116,498.
  • City Council members were consistently given financial reports that did not accurately convey the City's financial position.
  • The City routinely failed to justify its expenditures with adequate supporting documentation, questioning the legitimacy of those expenditures.
  • At least 12 City contractors did not have 1099 forms issued.

Maysville man arrested on Fentanyl trafficking charges in Prestonsburg

PRESTONSBURG, Ky. (WMDJ) – A traffic stop led to a drug arrest in Prestonsburg early Sunday morning.

 

Prestonsburg City Police pulled over a vehicle after being alerted that the vehicle had been linked to previous drug activity in the area. The vehicle was also registered to an owner who had a suspended driver’s license.

 

Over 47 grams of Fentanyl and nearly 2 grams of cocaine were discovered in the back seat during a search.

 

Authorities arrested Zachary Wayne Mason, 33, of Maysville, who was a passenger in the vehicle and charged him on possession and drug trafficking charges.

Young couple dies in two-car collision in Floyd County Friday evening

MARTIN, Ky. (WMDJ) – The Floyd County Sheriff’s Department is investigating a two-vehicle crash that claimed the lives of a young Floyd County couple Friday evening.

 

The accident happened just outside of Martin on KY Route 122 near the entrance to Waste Connections.

 

Whitney Moore, 21 and Corey Duncan 24, were both pronounced dead at the scene by the Floyd County Coroners Office. The name of the driver occupying the other vehicle or their condition has not been relased.

 

The cause of the accident is still under investigation.

Country Legend Clint Black performs in Knott County as officials raise $25,000 for continued Flood Recovery efforts

HINDMAN, Ky. (WMDJ) – A celebration of recovery was held Saturday in Hindman in a building once filled with flood water.  

 

Spectators filled Knott County Central High School’s Morton Combs Athletic Center Saturday to enjoy music from country legend Clint Black and Knott County native Tyra Madison, while raising money for continued flood and disaster relief efforts following the July 2022 flooding.

 

The Knott County Community Foundation and the Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky presented officials with Knott County Long Term Recovery a check for $25,000.

Mountain Comprehensive Care Center Celebrates 50th Year of Auxier Greenhouse this Saturday

FLOYD COUNTY, Ky. (WMDJ) – This year is Auxier Greenhouse’s 50th anniversary and this Saturday, Mountain Comprehensive Care Center will kick off a year of celebration with an Open House event from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m.

 

Mountain Comprehensive Care Center’s greenhouse program provides Day Training services for individuals with intellectual or development disabilities.

 

Officials have used the phrase, “Where plants help people grow” at the greenhouse. Clients learn to plant, grow and care for the plants, along with many valuable life skills. It allows them to be productive in general and for themselves in a safe, but real-world atmosphere.

 

MCCC's Day Training Program provides supportive instruction to developmentally and intellectually disabled adults in a positive environment at each of its greenhouse facilities. Day Training focuses on the development and enhancement of vocational and other life skills, providing the opportunity for individuals to improve their independence through vocational tasks; social interaction and interpersonal relationships; effective communication; enhancement of self-care and daily living skills; money management and community participation.

 

The greenhouse is located at 40 Greenhouse Lane in Prestonsburg at the intersection of Ky. Route 321 and Ky. Route 3.

Gov. Beshear Celebrate Progress of New Homes at Wayland

WAYLAND, Ky. (WMDJ) – Gov. Andy Beshear visited Floyd County on Tuesday joining volunteers with the Appalachia Service Project celebrating the progress being made at the high-ground community site in Wayland.

 

Eleven homes are being built on the four-acre site with partial funding from the Team Eastern Kentucky Flood Relief Fund. Each home received $100,000 from the fund.

 

Officials expect that the homes will be ready for occupancy in June.

 

“We made a promise to Eastern Kentucky that we would be here until every life and structure is rebuilt,” said Gov. Beshear. “It’s an honor to stand here today with these teams of volunteers so deeply rooted in serving this community that they are dedicating their time and talents to improve the lives of 11 families by building safe and affordable homes, outside of the flood plain. It’s a real testament to the hearts of Kentuckians.”

 

In October, Gov. Beshear visited the site to announce that the nearly build-ready land, previously owned by the local volunteer fire department, had been donated to build a community on higher ground. The site is located on State Highway 1086 near Main Street in Floyd County. 

 

“Floyd County is a special place with special people who are strong and resilient,” said Floyd County Judge/Executive Robbie Williams. “They have lived here for decades, their roots run deep, and even when disaster strikes, they do not want to move from our county. I want to thank the Governor, Appalachia Service Project and the Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky’s affiliate, the Floyd County Community Foundation, for their hard work to help our people continue to call Floyd County home.”

 

Working to address immediate housing needs, the Team Eastern Kentucky Flood Relief Fund continues to partially fund several homes being built on high ground. To date, the fund has provided over $1.4 million for 19 homes, including homes in Floyd, Breathitt, Knott, Perry, Owsley, Martin and Letcher counties. These homes are being built in partnership with nonprofit builders, including HOMES Inc, Housing Development Alliance and Partnership Housing. 

Floyd County Board of Education Purchases Supplies for Students

EASTERN, Ky. (WMDJ) – The Floyd County Board of Education will once again purchase school supplies for all children attending Floyd County Schools for the 2024-2025 school year.


The board voted last month to approve the funding to purchase school supplies for all students, preschool through 12th grade. The funding comes from relief funds provided by the American Rescue Plan.

 

Superintendent Anna Shepherd also added that students between 5th – 12th grade will once again receive devices to use and backpacks.

Great American Eclipse Day in Eastern Kentucky

FLOYD COUNTY, Ky. (WMDJ) – It’s The Great American Eclipse today across America and although eastern Kentucky isn’t in the path of eclipse totality, those in our area will experience a partial solar eclipse of over 90%.

 

The timeline for today’s eclipse in Floyd and surrounding counties will begin at approximately 1:53 p.m. By 2:36 p.m. half of the moon will be passing in front of the sun. A peak of 92% totality will happen at 3:11 p.m. this afternoon. By 3:45 p.m. the sun will again be covered by half of the moon with the event ending by 4:26 p.m.

 

The total duration of the eclipse will be 2 hours, 32 minutes and 53 seconds.

 

The forecast is calling for cloudy skies, with partly cloudy conditions by later today. However, cloudy skies will hinder much of the viewing here locally.

 

This is the first solar eclipse in North American since 2017. The next total solar eclipse will happen in 2044.


Some things to know about today’s eclipse:

  • Floyd County Schools are back in session today following Spring Break, however, classes will be dismissing at 12 noon so students can experience the eclipse at home.
  • The East Kentucky Science Center and Varia Planetarium along with Big Sandy Community & Technical College is hosting an Eclipse Extravaganza from 12 noon until 5 p.m. today.
  • If you have purchased eclipse glasses, please make sure those glasses indicate that they will block 100% of UV light, 100% of infrared and 99% of visible light. To test your eclipse glasses, hold them up to a regular light bulb. If any part of the bulb can be seen other than the actual light that his shining, they are unsafe to wear.
  • Do not look at the eclipse without proper eye protection. You will be at serious risk of injury to look upon the sun during the eclipse for any amount of time with the naked eye.

Former East Kentucky Dentist Found Guilty in Medicaid Fraud Case

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WMDJ) - A former Floyd and Johnson County dentist has been found guilty of defrauding Medicaid.

 

A Franklin County jury found Marcus S. Minix, 73 of Lexington, guilty of one count of Theft by Unlawful Taking (Class D Felony) and one count of Devising or Engaging in a Scheme to Defraud the Kentucky Medical Assistance Program (Class D Felony). Both charges are Class D felonies and punishable by up to five years in prison.

 

Minix owned and operated an eye care center in Floyd and Johnson counties, where he submitted false billings for services that were never provided. Over a dozen victimized patients could not receive proper eye care because of his criminal activity. Several of his victims were children, including one of whom was legally blind in one eye and had delays getting glasses. 

 

“The defendant did more than defraud the Medicaid program. He cheated Kentucky families and children out of critical medical care just to make a quick buck,” said Attorney General Coleman. “These are serious crimes, and our team will continue to investigate and prosecute them so we can protect Kentucky families.” 

 

The case was investigated by Detective Tim Dials and auditor Michael Ward with the Attorney General’s Office of Medicaid Fraud and Abuse Control. Deputy Director David Startsman as well as Assistant Attorneys General Linsey Hogg and Zach Ousley prosecuted the case on behalf of the Commonwealth. 

 

Minix is due back in Franklin Circuit Court on April 19th.  

KY Voter Registration Continues to Rise Ahead of May Primary

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WMDJ) – Voter registration in Kentucky continues to surge ahead of the May primary election.

 

Secretary of State Michael Adams announced that 8,816 new voters registered in March.

 

In March, 4,839 voters were removed – 3,578 dead voters, 617 felony convicts, 473 voters who moved out of state, 92 voters who voluntarily de-registered, 55 voters adjudged mentally incompetent, and 24 duplicate registrations. 

 

Republican registrants account for 46 percent of the electorate, with 1,612,767 voters. Republican registration increased by 2,654 voters, a .16 percent increase. Democratic registrants make up 43 percent of the electorate, with 1,511,958 voters. Democratic registration decreased by 794 voters, a .05 percent decrease. There are 362,567 voters registered under other political affiliations, 10 percent of the electorate. “Other” registration rose by 2,117 voters, a .60 percent increase.

 

The deadline to register for the May primary is April 22nd. 

Emergency Management Office Providing Free Weather Radios to Pike County Residents

PIKE COUNTY, Ky. (WMDJ) – Following the storms that swept through the area earlier this week, Pike County officials are planning to help residents be more informed of impending weather situations.

 

The Pike County Fiscal Court and Pike County Emergency Management has obtained a grant to provide weather radios to Pike County residents at no cost.

 

Judge Executive Ray Jones II says, “With the severe weather we’ve had in the last few years, it is important to stay prepared.”

 

All radios are preset to residents’ areas to provide direct weather-related forecasts, watches and warnings from the National Weather Service.

 

Distribution centers will be at the following locations:

  • Shelby Valley Senior Center on April 10th
  • Blackberry Senior Center on April 11th
  • Kimper Senior Center on April 16th
  • Belfry Senior Center on April 17th
  • Elkhorn City Senior Center on April 25th

 

All distribution centers will be providing sign-up sheets and radios between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Mountain Arts Center Plans to Create First-Ever Wind Orchestra

PRESTONSBURG, Ky. (WMDJ) – The Mountain Arts Center has announced the creation of its first-ever professional wind orchestra, under the direction of Slade Presley Denman with plans to host an inaugural concert on June 29th.

 

Brass and woodwind players, along with percussionist are needed.

 

Organizers say the project hopes to, “promote the rich cultural heritage and artistic expressions of the Appalachian region through high-quality concerts that deepen the connections within (the) community.”

 

The audition process involves submitting about a 1 – 1 ½ minute recorded demo by using Dropbox, OneDrive or Google Drive links via email to: sladedenman@me.com. You must also include your name, primary instrument and preferred method of communication in your submission.

 

A panel of musicians and staff will review your materials in April and a decision will be rendered of which applicants were passed as concert subs and who will be invited to participate in the inaugural concert. All applicants will be notified by the end of May via email.

Woman Arrested After Leading Deputies on Pursuit in McDowell

FLOYD COUNTY, Ky. (WMDJ) – A Floyd County woman has been arrested after leading deputies on a pursuit.

 

Rebecca Autumn Rose was arrested and charged with numerous drug related charges including trafficking in suspected Fentanyl, Heroin, Methamphetamine and Oxycodone.

 

Rose also faces charges of reckless driving and resisting arrest after attempting to allude deputies before stopping in a private driveway in McDowell. Rose was apprehended after attempting to flee her vehicle on foot.

 

Rose was lodged in the Floyd County Detention Center.

Applications for Federal Flood Funding Begins April 1st

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WMDJ) – Starting Monday, the Department for Local Government will begin accepting applications from local governments and entities for funding from Kentucky’s 2022 Disaster Recovery Program.

 

Local governments, nonprofit organizations and for-profit businesses can apply for their share of $297 million in federal funding allocated to the state to help with impacted areas of historic flooding in 2022.

 

Applications will be accepted starting April 1st for housing and infrastructure projects, economic development and resiliency planning.

 

Gov. Andy Beshear announced that Breathitt, Letcher, Knott, Perry and Pike Counties, will receive 80 percent of the funds since they were the most affected. Another 15 counties, including Floyd County, will share 20% of the funding.

 

Applications will be available starting Monday online at https://kydlgweb.ky.gov/.

Frontier Behavioral Health Opens New Addiction Recovery Housing Facility in Martin

MARTIN, Ky. (WMDJ) – Officials gathered Wednesday for the opening of a new addiction recovery housing facility in Floyd County.

 

Frontier Behavioral Health held a grand opening ceremony at their newest facility located across from Garth Vocational School in Martin.

 

Gov. Andy Beshear attended the ceremony saying, “(Addiction) arose in our lifetime. We should not leave it to our children, it has taken so many lives.”

 

“This is a part of what we’ve been trying to do all over Kentucky,” said Gov. Beshear. “That’s to ensure, no matter where you are, no matter when it is, that if you’re ready for treatment that there is a bed ready for you that day.”

 

The 16-bed facility will serve men in recovery with education and health services while helping them to get into the workforce.

 

Frontier officials said there are plans to expand the facility to another building located next door soon.

Kentucky State Police Charges Floyd Co. Man With Child Sexual Exploitation Offenses

PRINTER, Ky. (WMDJ) — The Kentucky State Police (KSP) Electronic Crime Branch arrested Matthew D. Williams, 38, on charges related to a child sexual abuse material investigation.

 

Williams was located, interviewed, and arrested as the result of an undercover Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) investigation. The KSP Electronic Crime Branch began the investigation after discovering the suspect uploading sexually explicit images of juveniles to an online social media account.

 

The investigation resulted in a search warrant for Williams and his residence in Printer on March 26, 2024. Equipment used to facilitate the crime was seized and taken to KSP’s forensic laboratory for examination. The investigation is still ongoing.

 

Williams is currently charged with seven counts of possessing matter portraying a minor under the age of 12 in a sexual performance and seven counts of distribution of matter portraying a minor under the age of 12 in a sexual performance. These charges are Class-C felonies punishable by five to ten years in prison. Williams was also charged with one count of possessing matter portraying a minor over the age of 12, but under the age of 18, in a sexual performance and one count of distribution of matter portraying a minor over the age of 12, but under the age of 18, in a sexual performance. These charges are Class-D felonies punishable by one to five years in prison. Williams was lodged in the Floyd County Detention Center.

 

The Kentucky Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force is comprised of more than twenty-six local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies. The mission of the ICAC Task Force, created by the United States Department of Justice and administrated by the Kentucky State Police, is to assist state and local law enforcement agencies in developing a response to cyber enticement and child sexual abuse material investigations. This support encompasses forensic and investigative components, training and technical assistance, victim services, prevention and community education. The ICAC program was developed in response to the increasing number of children and teenagers using the internet, the proliferation of child sexual abuse material, and the heightened online activity of predators searching for unsupervised contact with underage victims.

KSP Arrest Two on Drug Charges in Magoffin County

SALYERSVILLE, Ky. (WMDJ) – Kentucky State Police arrested two individuals after Troopers discovered illegal drugs during a routine traffic stop in Magoffin County.

 

Jerry Finch, 46 of Salyersville and Felisha Crace, 34 of Jackson were both arrested and lodged in the Big Sandy Regional Detention Center for trafficking meth, possession of a handgun and other drug charges.

 

Troopers seized 51 grams of suspected methamphetamine and firearms during the arrest, which happened in Salyersville on March 21st, 2024.

Floyd County Man Arrested for Assaulting Deputies

DAVID, Ky. (WMDJ) – A Floyd County man is facing charges including assaulting of a deputy.

 

Deputies were sent to the home of Jacob Estep, 25 of David to serve an arrest warrant.

 

Estep attempted to flee by hiding in the home’s basement. After being cornered, Estep struck K-9 Bear in the face and punched a deputy. K-9 Bear bit Estep on the arm and deputies hit Estep with two rounds of a taser to arrest him.

 

Estep was charged with assaulting an officer, assaulting a service animal, fleeing police among other charges.

Floyd County Couple Arrested on Child Neglect and Drug Charges

IVEL, Ky. (WMDJ) – A Floyd County couple is facing child neglect and drug charges after deputies discovered them high on drugs in a motel room.

 

Deputies were called to the Alpike Motel in Ivel to check on the welfare of a sick child allegedly being neglected by its parents who appeared to be intoxicated. 

 

Deputies discovered two syringes and a bag containing what appeared to be heroin along with the 7-year-old child in the room.

 

The parents, Megan Ball and Dustin Case, were both arrested on charges of endangering the welfare of a minor and possession of heroin and drug paraphernalia.

City of Wheelwright Pushes for Tourism Dollars with New Recreation Area

WHEELWRIGHT, Ky. (WMDJ) – The Wheelwright City Commission is making efforts to create tourism dollars for the town.

 

Commissioner Michael “Bub” Tackett introduced a proposal during Wednesday’s city commission meeting, which was approved, to transform a vacant 60-acre space near city hall into a recreation area for tourism.

 

The space would be used as a campsite and fairgrounds, which would provide a place for visitors to camp and allow the city a more developed area to host festivals and events.

 

Tackett also hopes to secure grant funding to develop the city’s mountains into a trail system and make Wheelwright an ATV-friendly town.

Congressman Rogers Announces $5 Million for Martin County Water Improvements

WASHINGTON, DC (WMDJ) - More federal funding has been secured for improvements to Martin County’s water system.

 

U.S. Rep. Harold “Hal” Rogers has acquired a $5 million in Community Project Funding from the Consolidated Appropriations Act. The bipartisan federal funding package was signed into law on March 9, 2024.
 
Since 2017, Congressman Rogers has secured $18.5 million in federal funding for Martin County water and wastewater improvements.
 
“Clean water is not only critical to our health, but our rural economy. Martin County’s troubled water system is improving, but we still have work to do, and I’m pleased that this additional $5 million earmark request withstood the complex funding process in Washington,” said Congressman Rogers, Dean of the House. “I have been working diligently with federal, state and local officials to eliminate the long history of water outages in Martin County, so local folks can feel safe using the water from their faucets year-round.”
 
The federal funding, secured by Congressman Rogers in recent years, has been provided to install a new water intake, replace and extend water lines, eliminate the use of contaminated well water local homeowners, install a new storage tank and booster pump station, replace water meters, and improve the water treatment plant with an updated monitoring system.
 
“I want to thank Congressman Rogers for his steadfast commitment to improving Martin County’s infrastructure and delivering clean potable water to all of our citizens. This earmark will go a long way in achieving our shared goal,” said Martin County Judge Executive Dr. Lon Lafferty. “It’s comforting to know that we have a leader such as Congressman Rogers who truly cares about the health and quality of life of those he represents.”
 
Congressman Rogers secured a $3.1 million earmark last year to upgrade the sewer plant and expand wastewater service to approximately 100 households and small businesses.
 
In total, Congressman Rogers secured 15 Community Project Funding earmarks in the FY24 Consolidated Appropriations Act totaling nearly $86 million, along with other important wins for Southern and Eastern Kentucky. Learn more about recent federal funding that Congressman Rogers voted for, by visiting halrogers.house.gov.

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