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West Knox FD needs to replace $30,000 of gear

West Knox fire guys1Officials say nothing toxic was released into the community following multiple explosions and a fire at Safeco in Gray last Monday night, but the fire has had a significant impact on the West Knox Fire Department, which is scrambling to replace 12 sets of turnout gear and nine sections of hose.
Chief Daryl Baker said in the course of fighting the fire at the tire recycling center on Ky. 233, turnout gear and nine sections of hose became soaked in oil and diesel fuel.
“We tried to wash them (the gear and hoses) but it won’t come out,” Baker said, noting the cost of replacing the gear and hoses is estimated at $25,000 to $30,000.
The bill Safeco will receive will include the cost to replace the damaged gear and hoses.
“We have 38 volunteers and 12 of them don’t have gear,” Baker said.
After speaking with officials at neighboring Woodbine and Keavy volunteer fire departments, Baker said those departments have agreed to loan West Knox some of the extra gear they have on hand. Baker estimated that could temporarily replace as many as eight sets of gear.
In addition, Baker said he and some of the other firefighters can leave their gear at the station with the trucks for use by the responding firefighters.
However, turnout gear is not one-size-fits-all and a new set takes up to two months to come in after it is ordered.
“It still depends on the size of the gear and the firefighters who need it,” Baker said.
Baker said a new set of turnout gear has a 10-year lifespan, after which it must be replaced.
The department has a rotation process ongoing whereby three sets of gear are replaced, annually.
Baker said members of the community are more than welcome to contribute toward the purchase of the new gear, noting any donations are very much appreciated.
Anyone that like to help may contact the fire department at 528-1700 or come by station one next to the old Lynn Camp School after 6 p.m. on Monday.
“There is no option not to replace it,” Baker said. “We have got to come up with the money.”
Firefighters were called to the scene about 9:20 p.m. following reports of multiple explosions in the area.
Baker said the explosions were propane tanks inside the plant where tires are shredded and oil is extracted from the remains.
Knox County Emergency Management Director Mike Mitchell said there was approximately 300 to 350 gallons of oil at the plant when the explosion occurred.
Firefighters were on scene until after midnight battling the blaze.
No one was injured in the explosion or the fire.


Nepotism at Cumberland Falls Highway Water District?

The manager of a local water district recently hired two relatives, who are now no longer employed after he was informed about the county’s nepotism policy prohibiting the hiring of his relatives.

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Update: I-75 reopened about 2:30 p.m., but avoid the area if possible

(Update: Both southbound lanes of I-75 reopened about 2:27 p.m. Thursday.)

Southbound lanes of I-75 are expected to reopen about 2:30 p.m. following an early morning accident involving a semi near the Whitley County-Tennessee state line, but motorists are encouraged to avoid the area if possible for a while longer until backed up traffic clears.

The wrecked happened about 4:30 a.m. near the one-mile marker in the southbound lane.

“He hit a barrier next to the Tennessee line, and lost a fuel tank. He went probably another 1,000 yards up the interstate and lost another fuel tank when he went in the median. By the time he got stopped, his truck was on fire,” said Whitley County Emergency Management Director Danny Moses. “He was lucky to escape with his life.”

Moses said that it was probably fortunate that the driver lost the two big tanks before the vehicle caught on fire.

Moses said the truck still had a small fuel tank on it that was powering the refrigeration unit, which firefighters had to deal with. The vehicle was hauling boxed lunch meat.

Although the driver lost all of his personal belongings, Moses said he escaped the accident uninjured. No other vehicles were involved in the accident.

The accident left southbound I-75 shutdown for several hours with traffic being detoured onto U25W in Williamsburg.

Moses said that he hopes to reopen the interstate about 2:30 p.m. before school lets out, but he urges drivers to avoid the area if possible until the backed up traffic clears up.

The Whitley County Sheriff’s Department investigated the accident. South Whitley and Emlyn volunteer fire departments, the Jellico Rescue Squad and Eco Tech all assisted at the scene.

Moses said that Eco Tech would be back Friday to finish cleaning up the fuel spill.

The two large tanks, which detached from the vehicle, each held up to 100 gallons of fuel.

Moses said that he isn’t sure when the driver refueled last, but that probably 100 gallons of fuel or more escaped.


Wednesday shooting claims life of Gray man

A Wednesday afternoon shooting claimed the life of a Gray man, and resulted in a brief barricade situation with another man, who is now hospitalized because of a gunshot wound.

This home, which is located off Higgins Hollow Road in Knox County, was the site of a shooting Wednesday. The shooting left a Gray man dead and a Barbourville man hospitalized.

Glenn Edwards, 57, of Gray, was pronounced dead at the scene by a Knox County deputy coroner after suffering a gunshot wound. His body will be sent to the Kentucky Medical Examiner’s Office in Frankfort for an autopsy, according to a Kentucky State Police press release.

About 4:52 p.m. Wednesday, KSP officers from Post 10 in Harlan received a call from the Knox County Sheriff’s Department requesting assistance on Ky. 3440 (Higgins Hollow Road) regarding a shooting complaint.

State police, the Knox County Sheriff’s Department, and the Barbourville Police Department had a brief barricade situation until Glenn Powell, 71, of Barbourville, came out of his residence and surrendered, according to the release.

Powell was transported from the scene and later flown to the University of Tennessee Medical Center after suffering a gunshot wound.

As of 7:30 a.m. Thursday, Powell’s condition had been upgraded and he is now listed in stable condition.

State police are continuing to investigate how Powell received a gunshot wound. No officers were involved in the shooting. Charges are pending, according to the release.

KSP Detective Jake Wilson is continuing the investigation, and was assisted at the scene by the Barbourville Police Department, the Knox County Sheriff’s Department, the Knox County Coroner’s Office, the Barbourville Fire Department and the Knox County Ambulance Service.


Cox: Revenue from Corbin BOE tax hike will go toward school safety

Newly hired teachers in the Corbin Independent School System were honored by the Board of Education during its monthly meeting last Thursday.

In the name of school safety, taxpayers who live in the Corbin Independent School District will be paying a little more on their tax bills this year.

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Fourth-month investigation leads to meth bust on AG Road

Tammy Vest

James Woods

A four-month-long investigation led to a large methamphetamine bust in southern Laurel County over the weekend, and two people are facing felony drug trafficking charges after being arrested by police.

According to the Laurel County Sheriff’s Department, Detectives James Sizemore and Bryon Lawson seized 28.5 ounces of “suspected crystal methamphetamine” from a vehicle on American Greeting Card road at about 1:40 am Saturday.

Detectives obtained a search warrant for a residence on the road where more suspected methamphetamine, a digital scale and baggies were discovered.

Taken into custody were Tammy M. Vest, 42, of Frankfort; and James Woods, 55, of Corbin.

Vest was charged with trafficking in a controlled substance (first degree, second offense).

Woods was charged with trafficking in a controlled substance (first degree, second offense) and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Both were lodged in the Laurel County Detention Center.

Vest in being detained in lieu of $25,000 cash bond. Woods is in jail on a $10,000 cash bond.

Assisting at the scene and on the investigation for the Laurel County Sheriff’s office were Sgt. John Inman, Deputy Shannon Jones, and Deputy Landry Collett.

Also assisting were agents from ATF, DEA agents from the London office, and Kentucky State police Interdiction Team.

More arrests are expected as the investigation continues.


Grace Health Women’s Care holds community open house

The state-of-the-art, 19,000 square feet Grace Health Women’s Care center officially opened in Corbin this week, and community members got a sneak peak of the facility last Wednesday prior to its official opening.

The clinic, located at the old Forest Lanes bowling alley in the Forest Hills Shopping Center, held an open house for the community and provided tours of the facility. It contains 26 exam rooms, a large central lobby and waiting area, meeting rooms, exclusive lounge areas for doctors and staff, and ultrasound rooms equipped with 3D and 4D ultrasound machines.

Grace Health Women’s Care is accepting new patients. Anyone interested is encouraged to call 606-528-4481


First Lady visits local treatment center for women

Kentucky First Lady Glenna Bevin, center, visited Independence House in Corbin last week.

Kentucky First Lady Glenna Bevin visited a Corbin facility last week dedicated to helping pregnant and parenting mothers get back on their feet in the wake of crippling substance abuse problems.

Bevin, the mother of nine children (four adopted), toured the Independence House last Wednesday. The home is a program within Cumberland River Behavioral Health — a nonprofit community mental health center.

Samantha Sowders, Director of the Independence House, said the facility has two phases; one that helps all women with substance abuse issues, and a second phase for pregnant and post-delivery mothers that has a 30-day minimum stay. There are 15 beds at the Independence House in seven bedrooms, and a special “mommy and me” suite.

“We usually have a waiting list of about 30 women,” Sowders said. “We were one of the first licensed programs in the state to accept pregnant women.”

The Independence House was chartered in the early 1990s.

Danny Jones, CEO of Cumberland River Behavior Health, told Bevin that one of the best parts of the program is that it often results in women, who have had to give up custody of some of their children because of substance abuse issues, often regaining custody through the courts.

“When they are able to get those children that they lost back, it’s a wonderful thing,” Jones said.

Sowders told Bevin the Independence House was servicing 13 women and four babies at the time of her visit. There is also a cottage on the site where women can stay after they graduate from the program in order to transition back into the community.

“We’ve followed closely what you’ve done with adoption and foster care,” Jones told Bevin. “We are excited for you to see what we are doing to try to help with the mothers and families and babies.”

Bevin did not want to be interviewed by the media during her visit.


Corbin Public Library’s ‘Girls Who Code’ draws 12 participants

The first week of the Corbin Public Library’s “Girls Who Code,” drew 12 participants Monday afternoon.

The 15-week course, which will be held on Mondays, is designed to teach girls the basics of computer coding while giving them the opportunity to make friends and explore career opportunities in the tech community.

“I’m hoping to show them that they have this ability and they can do anything they put their minds to,” said Kayla Chadwell, who will be leading the class.

Among the participants in the early class for grades 3-5, was Summer Long.

“It was fun,” Long said adding that she would definitely return.

Chadwell, who teaches 5th grade at the Corbin School of Innovation, said it is not too late to participate.

Two sessions will be held.

Girls in grades 3-5 will meet beginning at 4:30 p.m. Girls in grades 6-12 will meet beginning at 5:45 p.m.

The classes are free and all materials and computers are provided.

“They can just show up,” Chadwell said of anyone who would like to participate.

More information is available online at or by calling the library at 528-6366.


Corbin leaders put brakes on new fire truck purchase

The Corbin Fire Department still needs a new pumper truck, but it may not be getting one that the Corbin City Commission voted to purchase last week.

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Vanover pleads guilty in federal court in drug conspiracy case

The second of the two men facing federal charges of conspiring to distribute drugs in Whitley County in 2017 has pleaded guilty.

Danny Ray Vanover, 44, of, Williamsburg, pleaded guilty to his part in the conspiracy uncovered by Williamsburg Police, at a rearraignment hearing on Sept. 10 in U.S. District Court in London.

According to the plea agreement, Vanover admitted to working with co-defendant David Davis, 47, of Williamsburg, to distribute oxycodone and oxymorephone between February 27, 2017 and March 14, 2017.

Williamsburg Police executed a search warrant on Vanover’s residence on March 14, 2017, seizing oxymorphone tablets, drug ledgers and a digital video recorder attached to an in-home security system.

Police secured a second search warrant authorizing officers to view the contents of the DVR.

“Approximately 100 drug transactions involving (Vanover) and others were on the recordings,” the plea agreement states. “The recording also revealed that David Davis and (Vanover) were present together for multiple drug transactions. Customers identified from the recordings confirm that both (Vanover) and Davis sold oxycodone and oxymorphone from (Vanover’s) residence.”

Police also executed a search warrant on Davis’ residence, seizing a large amount of narcotics, money and other items used in drug trafficking and stolen property.

On April 11, 2017, Freeman obtained a search warrant to search five cell phones obtained during the search of Davis’ residence. One of the cell phones was taken from Danny Vanover.

Williamsburg Police Detective Bobby Freeman arrested Davis, on March 15, 2017, on charges of first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance, second-degree trafficking in a controlled substance, and receiving stolen property over $500 but less than $10,000.

Davis pleaded guilty to his part in the conspiracy on July 31. He is scheduled to be formally sentenced at 1:30 p.m. on Nov. 13.

No sentencing date has been set for Vanover.