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Space heater sparks house fire

Keavy firefighters spent several hours Tuesday afternoon battling a structure fire on Edgewater Road.

James Tackett said he returned home from a shopping trip to find smoke pouring from his family’s home.

An electric space heater had been left running in the living room area of the home.

“You could see fire coming out of the heater,” Tackett said.

Firefighters were able to contain the blaze, though there is smoke damage throughout.


Christian group, ‘Casting Crowns’ returning to The Arena on March 16

Christian music group Casting Crowns will be returning to The Arena in Corbin in March for a brand new show.

Casting Crowns is slated to perform at The Arena in Corbin on March 16.

Arena Director Kristi Balla announced that tickets for the March 16 show will go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday at The Arena Box Office and on

“That is the same day that Casting Crown’s new album comes out,” Balla said.

Balla said while the group has played multiple shows in Corbin, it is a great event for The Arena as it draws fans not only from the area, but from the region.

“The last show, we had church groups coming from and hour or more away,” Balla said.

Ticket prices are $30, $45, and $75. A special discounted price of $25 is available to groups of 10 or more.

Balla said The Arena will be set up to accommodate approximately 3,200 people.

“All of the seats are going to be good,” Balla said.

Balla is advising anyone interested in the show to purchase tickets early as it is, traditionally, one of the more popular events.

“We sold out the last time they were here,” Balla said.

Joining Casting Crowns for the show will be Zach Williams and Austin French.

Balla said she will be announcing more shows for 2019 within the next week.

“We will have some family events, a comedian, and another big country show,” Balla said. “We have a lot of family stuff coming in 2019.”

While the 2019 lineup is being flushed out, multiple events remain on the schedule for 2018.

Gary Allan will be at The Arena Saturday and The Oak Ridge Boys are scheduled to play on Nov. 23.

On Dec. 8, The Arena will host the Christmas Crown Cheer and Dance.

The Union College Basketball Team will host Indiana University East on Dec. 10.

Other events scheduled for 2019 include the WYMT-TV and Pittsburg Marine First Annual Kentucky Fishing Expo on Jan. 18-20.

Live Nation presents Kane Brown with special gues Granger Smith and Danielle Bradbery on Feb. 1.

“We opened up some additional seats, but they went fast. We are back down to single tickets for the show,” Balla said.

The 13th Region Basketball Tournament will return to The Arena Feb. 25 through March 4. Corbin High School will be hosting the event.

More information is available on the arena webpage or at


Corbin woman pardoned by governor

Danielle Stansberry Matlock was sitting at home on Sunday night, Nov. 3 when her phone rang and Gov. Matt Bevin told her that he had approved her application for a pardon.

Danielle Stansberry Matlock with her husband Charles.

“It came up as a private number and it was 9:45 at night. At first I wasn’t going to answer,” Matlock said. “When he said he was the governor, I thought it was a robocall because of the election. When he said what he was calling about, I asked if it was a joke. When he told me it wasn’t a joke, I just started crying.”

“It is like a big weight has been lifted off of me,” she said.

Matlock, now 40, has carried this weight since 2005 when she was convicted of facilitation to manufacture methamphetamine and possession of methamphetamine in Whitley County. Adding to the charges, there was a gun involved, meaning Matlock was facing up to 20 years in prison.

In January 2005, she was sentenced to four years. However, even that wasn’t enough to wake her up about her drug problem.

“On the way back to the Bullitt County Jail, I took some of the pills the guy I was riding in the back of the police car with was able to get hold of,” Matlock said. “When I woke up the next morning, I got real mad because I had just taken drugs after I avoided 20 years in prison.”

“I had tried to kick drugs before but I didn’t change my thinking. I went to rehab but I didn’t get involved during the meetings.”

As with the first rehab, Matlock went to Independence House in Corbin.

“I was ready and willing to get clean,” Matlock said. “I was honest and I was active in rehab.”

Matlock will be mark her 13th year free from dugs on Jan. 14.

“There are times I have white-knuckled it,” Matlock said of relapsing.

In addition, she became involved in church and got a job.

“B&H Shoes gave me a shot,” Matlock said giving credit to owners Marsha and Danny Barnett.

Matlock said she filled out multiple applications, but when she admitted to being a convicted felon, that was the end for her.

“One person looking at an application I submitted actually took two steps back after seeing that,” Matlock said.

Matlock went on to earn her Master’s Degree and now works as a licensed social worker. She now works with adolescents who are facing substance abuse issues.

Matlock said the pardon process took several years. In the application, she had to list all of the charges and the outcome.

“I had to sit back and look at my past. It was painful, but it is part of it,” Matlock said.

Matlock said even though she has been pardoned for her crimes, she is not trying to hide her past.

“I own what I did,” Matlock said.

She said she hopes other people can learn from her mistakes.

“To anyone that is struggling with addiction, don’t lose hope!” Matlock said. “There is a way out.”


Officials to mark 40 years of service at Whitley Court Clerk’s Corbin office

Area officials will come together Friday to celebrate 40 years of service at the Whitley County Circuit Court Clerk’s Corbin office.

The office and district court room opened in 1978.

“We are just real excited to celebrate 40 years of service to the community of Corbin and the northern half of Whitley County,” said Chief Deputy Clerk Donna Broughton.

In addition to civil, criminal and juvenile court matters, the Corbin office renews driver’s licenses for residents in Whitley, Laurel and Knox counties.

“At least 1,000 people come into our office each month for driver’s license renewals,” Broughton said.

“We are kind of unique in handling the driver’s licenses for all three counties in one office. We are the only office in the state that offers that kind of service,” she said.

Approximately 45 percent of the district court cases in Whitley County are heard in Corbin.

“We are within 100 to 150 cases of the number heard in Williamsburg,” Broughton said.

The office is staffed by six people.

“It is a major thing for the north end of Whitley County,” Broughton said.

District Court Judge Cathy Prewitt, Corbin Mayor Willard McBurney and State Senator Robert Sivers, R-Manchester, will be on hand to give remarks.


Henkelmann sues UC over life sciences exhibit

A Williamsburg man, who donated a large collection of preserved animals to the University of the Cumberlands for its museum over 25 years ago, is now suing the school because it is no longer displaying the collection.

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Johnson murder trial postponed until Jan. 8

The trial of a Lily man, who is accused of beating his twin brother to death with a hammer, has been delayed until January.

Jury selection in the case against Antonio Johnson, 33, was scheduled to begin Tuesday in Laurel Circuit Court.

However, at the request of attorneys from both sides, Judge Greg Lay agreed to continue the trial.

After convening court, Lay asked both parties if they were ready to proceed.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Jackie Steele asked Lay for a conference at the bench. After several moments of conversation, Lay announced to the assembled pool of potential jurors that for reasons given at the bench, the trial would be continued.

“I did not anticipate this situation,” Lay told the jurors.

Steele said he could not go into details, but said it involved an emergency medical condition on the part of an individual involved in the trial.

After dismissing the jurors, Lay spoke with Steele and defense attorney Jennifer Perkins concerning a new trial date, setting the trial for Jan. 8.

The trial is expected to take two days.

A final pretrial hearing is scheduled for Jan. 3.

Lay also took up a new motion to amend Johnson’s bond, which is set at $500,000 cash.

Perkins told the court that Johnson has been incarcerated since April 2016.

She noted his limited criminal history and that family members, who have been in court during Johnson’s appearances, have agreed to ensure he appears as required for future court appearances.

She requested the bond be amended to $50,000 fully secured with Johnson to be on home incarceration.

When asked where Johnson would stay if he were released, Perkins said his family agreed that he could stay with them in Fort Hood, Texas.

“Therein lies the problem,” Lay replied.

“I can’t release the defendant to Texas,” he said in denying the motion.

Johnson is facing one count of murder-domestic violence.

Laurel County Sheriff’s deputies were called to a residence on Robinson Creek Road in Lily in response to a 9-1-1 call that Antonio Johnson made in 2016.

In the call, Antonio Johnson told dispatchers that he found his brother lying on the bedroom floor and thought he was dead.

“He said he thinks Anthony used a hammer to kill himself,” said Deputy Gilbert Acciardo, the department’s public affairs officer.

Acciardo said previously that an autopsy showed Anthony Johnson suffered multiple blows to the top of his head.

Deputies recovered a hammer at the scene.

“It was more of a utility hammer,” Acciardo said previously when asked about the size of the hammer.

Under Kentucky law, Antonio Johnson faces 20 to 50 years, or life in prison.

The case does not meet the legal requirements for the death penalty to apply.

In order to seek the death penalty, Kentucky law requires aggravating circumstances such as: another violent crime, such as robbery or rape, to have been committed in connection with the murder, two or more victims, or the victim to be a police officer or corrections officer killed in the line of duty.


Local angler Mike Huff moves up to Bassmaster Elite Series

Mike Huff holding bass caught at a recent tournament on Douglas Lake in Tennessee.

A local professional angler is moving up in the fishing ranks next year after a successful 2018 tournament season.

Mike Huff, 28, of Corbin, finished the Bassmaster Open Tour in the top 10 in points for the year. He garnered 848 points, which put him in eighth place overall in the tour’s eastern division.

Huff received an invitation to fish in the Bassmaster Pro Shops Eastern Open Tournament, which was held Sept. 13-15 at Douglas Lake in Dandridge, Tennessee, due to his high finish.

“Half the field was Elite Series guys,” Huff said. “It was neat to fish against all those guys.”

He caught 10 live fish in the tournament, weighing a total of 20 lbs. and 9 ounces. He finished 25th overall during the three-day contest.

Maybe most important, Huff won an invitation to fish in the Bassmaster Elite Series in 2019 — a move up in ranks in the professional angling world. The top three finishers in points in the Open Tour get invitations to the Bassmaster Classic, which represents the top level of professional fishing.

Though he missed the rigorous cut for the Classic, eighth place for the season is Huff’s best finish. Two years ago he finished 25th, and last year was 30th overall in the standings.

“I didn’t get to qualify for the Bassmaster Classic, but I’m excited about fishing the Elite Series,” Huff said. “It’s a great opportunity.”

Huff came by his love of fishing almost as a family trait. His father, Rex Huff, fishes professionally as well.

Huff fished for Georgetown College’s fishing team, which qualified for the NAIA national championship every year he participated, and came in the top 10 three times.

So much of the battle in “making it” as a professional angler comes in securing sponsorships. Huff said he is extremely thankful to Forcht Group of Kentucky founder and CEO Terry Forcht for agreeing to help out. Forcht Bank is one of Huff’s biggest sponsors.

There is a $40,000 entry fee to participate in the Bassmaster Elite Series for 2019.

“It’s very generous of him to do that,” Huff said. “You just cannot make a living as a pro fisherman without sponsorships. I was surprised, really, that he agreed to do that, but he was all for it. Mr. Forcht has been great. It was a huge relief.”

Huff said there are many “extremely good fishermen” who simply cannot participate in the professional ranks because of the expense.

“There’s some guys that I fished against in college that I know could really compete as pro fishermen, but sponsorships are so huge. That’s really half the battle.”

The nine-tournament, Bassmaster Elite Series kicks of Feb. 7-10 at St. Johns River in Palatka, Florida.

Huff said he’s only been on the river once, but “didn’t even make a cast.” He was there to help break in a friend’s new boat.

Results for Bassmaster series events, and season standings, can be found online at


Deputy finds intoxicated woman in stolen car

A Tennessee woman was arrested Monday afternoon after a Whitley County Sheriff’s deputy found her allegedly intoxicated inside a stolen vehicle.

Deputy Joe Prewitt arrested Christy L. Parker, 27, of Sweetwater, about 2:22 p.m., and charged her with public intoxication controlled substance excludes alcohol and receiving stolen property under $10,000.

Prewitt arrested Parker after receiving a complaint that a possibly intoxicated person was at the northbound rest area off of I-75.

When Prewitt arrived at the scene, he found Parker inside a 2001 white Lincoln Town Car, which had been reported stolen, according to an arrest citation.

Parker appeared to be under the influence and allegedly told police that she had smoked methamphetamine the prior date, the citation stated.

She was lodged in the Whitley County Detention Center.


UC receives $5 million grant for 21st Century Learning Center

University of the Cumberlands (UC) recently announced receipt of a $5 million grant from the Grover Hermann Foundation to renovate the university’s library into a 21stCentury Learning Center for students, faculty, staff and community members.

The University of the Cumberlands Library will soon be renovated thanks in part to a recent $5 million grant.

“This is an important milestone for our campus community,” said Dr. Larry L. Cockrum, president of University of the Cumberlands. “Revolutionizing our current, out-of-date library into a 21st Century Leaning Center will significantly influence our ability to educate future leaders. The Learning Center will meet the technological needs of today’s students while providing shared learning spaces that inspire the knowledge and skills the 21stcentury demands of us all.”

Cumberlands’ current library was constructed in the 1960’s, and since that time, few renovations have been completed.

The proposed architectural design, which was created by the Brandstetter Carroll Architectural Firm, includes a first floor filled with technology booths, a coffee bar and café, computer areas, rooms for quiet study, and a portion of the library’s media collection.

The concept plan for the second floor includes the bulk of the library’s collection, in addition to some classrooms and plenty of seating and study areas. An elevator will also be added, increasing access to all floors.

As part of the renovation process, the library will be named the Grover M. Hermann Learning Center.

“The Grover Hermann Foundation is extremely pleased to have made a grant to University of the Cumberlands to help establish the Grover M. Hermann Learning Center,” said Paul K. Rhoads, president of the foundation. “We firmly believe that this imaginative transformation of an important building on campus will serve to greatly strengthen an already outstanding university.”

Grover M. Hermann was a very successful businessman who lived from 1890 to 1979.
At the age of 23 he established a small company, which grew over nearly five decades into a large, diversified corporation. In addition to his entrepreneurial successes, Hermann also was a great philanthropist, a man who contributed generously both time and fortune to many important charitable causes, both individually and through his foundation, according to a UC release.

“We are confident that Mr. Hermann would be very pleased with this grant, which will be the last of a long list of grants to the University extending back more than three decades,” Rhoads said.

Cockrum thanked the foundation for its support.

“We are incredibly grateful to the Grover Hermann Foundation for their generous support over many years. Their contributions have significantly impacted the lives of the students we educate and the quality of education we are able to offer this region,” Cockrum said.

Total cost of the library renovation is estimated at $7.8 million. With the $5 million provided by the Hermann Foundation, the University plans to move forward in finalizing plans and contractors for the project. Work on the 21stCentury Learning Center is expected to begin within a year.

“We are so very blessed to have this $5 million grant from the Grover Hermann Foundation,” said William L. Stohlman, Director of Development at Cumberlands. “It will serve as a powerful example for others to follow as we seek support to complete the campaign.”

Located in Williamsburg, University of the Cumberlands is an institution of regional distinction offering quality undergraduate, graduate, doctoral, and online degree programs. Learn more at


WCHS hosting free community Thanksgiving meal Nov. 21

Local residents will have the chance to enjoy a free Thanksgiving meal next Wednesday, Nov. 21, from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. at Whitley County High School thanks to the efforts of several volunteers.

Several volunteers will once again be serving up a free community Thanksgiving meal on Wednesday, Nov. 21, from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.

“We have four foundational principles we operate by here. The fourth one of those is community investment. It’s important that communities work together. Parents, students, community stakeholders, all those things equal a better place for Whitley Countians,” Whitley County High School Principal Bob Lawson said about the reason for the community dinner.

“We’d love to have everyone out. We look forward to it. We are thankful for our community. It is a great place to live.”

This is the fourth year for the program, which has fed more than 2,000 people so far.

“The community part continues to grow. That is the most fun part. We are getting more alumni involved. It has always been designed to be a community event around the holidays,” Lawson said.

“We’ll take as many people as we can get. We want everybody here to just enjoy each other this Thanksgiving season.”

Lawson said there has been a misconception by some that the event is just for the needy, which isn’t the case.

“It’s for everyone. We just want a sense of togetherness feel for the dinner. Some folks think it is just for the needy, but that is not just who it is for. It’s for the needy. It’s for everyone. Everyone come out, let’s get together, eat and have a community dinner,” Lawson added.

The community meal is at no cost to taxpayers.

A food drive is conducted in support of the program. Several ladies in the cafeteria take care of a lot of the side items, and many people will donate desserts.

“It is really a great team effort,” Lawson said.

Lawson said that about 20-25 guys will get together and cook the turkeys outside over the course of several hours.

Typically 50 – 100 volunteers participate in either cooking the meal or helping serve it.