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Whitley, Laurel and Knox counties are all three currently considered “Work Ready In-Progress” communities on the cusp of reaching fully certified status, according to a state economic development official who spoke to members of the Southern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce Tuesday.
Brooklyn Leep, Project Manager with the Kentucky Office of Workforce, Community Development and Research, was the featured speaker at the chamber’s monthly membership luncheon, held at the Corbin Center.
Her office is part of the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development.
“Being considered a certified Work Ready community is definitely a marketing tool we use for communities when we talk to potential businesses,” Leep said. “It’s something we talk about with companies who contact our cabinet.”
The Work Ready Communities program was started about eight years ago under former Kentucky governor Steve Beshear. It was created to help address deficits in many of the state’s communities in the number of “work ready” employees — people who possessed the skills that companies eyeing the state as a potential site for location or expansion would desire.
Many Kentucky counties had abnormally high jobless rates when the program started.
Leep said that, right now, Kentucky still lags behind the national average. Nationwide unemployment states at just 3.7 percent.
In the state, the jobless rate is about 4.5 percent.
But it is closing the gap. Overall, the state unemployment rate has steadily dropped.
Currently, 67 percent of Kentucky counties have jobless rates below 5 percent, and 44 percent have jobless rates below 4 percent.
She said the program is helping to measurably reduce the number of Kentuckians who are out of work. It does so by setting benchmarks for counties that apply to gain the certification of “Work Ready.” Nearly every Kentucky County is either certified, or in the process of trying to become certified.
“It is a process … that’s the idea behind this,” Leep said.
Communities are required to meet certain benchmarks in areas like high school graduation rates, Internet availability, engagement of transition populations (like returning military veterans or released inmates), community commitment, etc.
Leep said Whitley and Knox County both have until next August to try to meet the benchmarks. If they cannot, they can file requests for three-year extensions to keep “Work Ready in-progress” status.
Bruce Carpenter, Executive Director of the Southern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, said he is committed to trying to meet all the qualifications without the necessity of an extension.
Leep was asked a couple of questions, following her speech, about how communities go about the application process.
Following her presentation, new members of the chamber were presented with official membership plaques.
A Stearns woman allegedly rammed a McCreary County Sheriff’s deputy’s police cruiser, and growled at a Kentucky State Police trooper as he was arresting her early Sunday evening, according to arrest citations.
Williamsburg Cash Express is once again asking for the public’s help in order to make Christmas a little merrier for the less fortunate.
On Saturday, Nov. 24 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Cash Express will be attempting to fill a police cruiser and a fire truck with gently used toys, coats and clothing or with non-perishable food items.
The Whitley County Sheriff’s Department will be providing the police cruiser for the event, and Patterson Creek Volunteer Fire Department will be providing a rescue truck. Williamsburg Fire & Rescue is also planning to bring its ladder truck to the event.
“We are going to try and fill them up in order to give back to the community,” said Kim Vanover, store manager.
While this is the 14th year for the toy and coat drive, Vanover said this is the second time organizers have tried to fill one, let alone two vehicles with items.
Proceeds from the annual drive are donated to the Patterson Creek Volunteer Fire Department for distribution to the less fortunate.
“I know Patterson Creek. They do children’s boxes for everyone up at Whitley East and for other kids in the community. They do food donations too. We take it all in and they are able to hand that out all through the community up there. It works out really well. They do an excellent job,” Vanover noted. “We do keep everything here in Whitley County.”
Vanover said that if Cash Express can get additional donations, it would like to donate to support other groups too.
Cash Express has asked that all donations be made by Dec. 15 in order to have them delivered in time for Christmas.
The fire truck and police car event will take place outside of Williamsburg Cash Express, which is located at 965 S. US25W at the Cumberland Regional Mall.
For more information about the drive, contact Cash Express at 539-0174.
A Williamsburg duo is facing a felony assault charge in connection with an October incident.
On Monday, Whitley County Sheriff’s Deputy Todd Shelley arrested Courtney D. Hayes, 25, of Upper Mulberry Road, and Melvin Hill, 31, of Louden Road, serving them both with second-degree assault warrants.
Loyle Griffith obtained the arrests warrants in connection with an Oct. 22 alleged incident.
Griffith alleged that Hayes got him to go look at her water leak while letting her boyfriend, Hill, hit him from behind knocking him out, according to the warrants.
Griffith alleged that Hill got on top of him before beating him and chocking him, and then stomping him with his boots, leaving boot prints on his back. Griffith suffered bruises around the neck, a broken nose, and chest trauma, according to Hill’s arrest warrant.
Griffith was also allegedly hit with a 25-pound weight, which caused bleeding out of both ears, facial and scalp contusions and a contusion from a direct hit to the head, according to the warrants.
Hayes’ warrant alleged that she joined in with her boyfriend hitting, kicking and stomping Griffith.
Hill was already in the Whitley County Detention Center for parole violation, when was served with the warrant about 8 a.m. Monday, according to the detention center’s website and his arrest citation.
Hayes was arrested about 4:57 p.m. at a location near Verne Road, and lodged in the Whitley County Detention Center.
After two weeks of playoff football only two coverage area teams remain – the Corbin Redhounds and the Williamsburg Yellow Jackets.
NOTICE OF INTENTION TO MINE
Pursuant to Application Number 918-0469, Major Revision
In accordance with KRS 350.070 notice is hereby given that Alden Resources LLC 332 West Cumberland Gap Parkway, Suite 100, Corbin, Kentucky 40701 has applied for a major revision to an existing surface coal mining and reclamation operation located 0.67 miles southwest of Gausdale in Whitley County. The major revision will add 3.83 acres of surface disturbance making a total area of 229.52 acres within the revised permit area.
The proposed major revision area is approximately 0.22 miles northeast from KY Highway 11’s junction with KY Highway 92 and located 0.31 miles northeast of the confluence of Buffalo Creek with Poplar Creek.
The proposed major revision is located on the Barbourville and Frakes, KY 7½ minute quadrangle map. The surface area to be affected by the major revision is owned by Brenda Lambdin and Robert Rice.
The major revision proposes to add Haul Road No. 2.
This is the final advertisement of the application. All comments, objections or requests for a permit conference must be received within thirty (30) days of today’s date. The major revision application has been filed for public inspection at the Department for Natural Resources, Middlesboro Regional Office, 1804 East Cumberland Avenue, Middlesboro, Kentucky 40965-1229. Written comments, objections or requests for a permit conference must be filed with the Director, Division of Mine Permits, 300 Sower Boulevard, Frankfort, Kentucky 40601.
NOTICE OF INTENTION TO MINE
Pursuant to Application Number 918-8016, Renewal
In accordance with KRS 350.055, notice is hereby given that ARL Resources, LLC, 332 West Cumberland Gap Parkway, Suite 100, Corbin, Kentucky 40701 has applied for renewal of a permit for a preparation plant coal processing facility affecting 12.2 acres located 1.0 mile south of Emlyn in Whitley County.
The proposed facility is approximately 0.3 mile south from US 25’s junction with Cane Creek Road and located 0.05 mile west of Clear Creek.
The proposed operation is located on the Williamsburg, KY 7½ minute quadrangle map. The surface area is owned by Newco Mining KY, LLC.
This is the final advertisement of the application. All comments, objections or requests for a permit conference must be received within thirty (30) days of today’s date. The application has been filed for public inspection at the Department for Mining Reclamation and Enforcement’s Middlesboro Regional Office, 1804 East Cumberland Avenue, Middlesboro, Kentucky 40965-1229. Written comments, objections or requests for a permit conference must be filed with the Director, Division of Mine Permits, 300 Sower Boulevard, Frankfort, Kentucky 40601.
NOTICE OF INTENTION TO MINE
Pursuant to Application No. 918-0503 NW
In accordance with KRS 350.055 notice is hereby given that JMR Resources, LLC., 320 Catalpa Street, Pineville, KY 40977, has applied for a permit for a surface coal mining and reclamation operation located 0.5 miles southeast of Mountain Ash in Whitley County. The proposed operation will disturb 21.0 surface acres and 24.0 auger acres, and the total area within the permit boundary will be 45.0 acres.
The proposed operation is approximately 0.4 miles southeast from intersection of Mountain Ash Road and Old Mountain Ash Pike and located 0.5 miles east of Clear Fork.
The proposed operation is located on the Williamsburg/Saxton U.S.G.S 7-1/2 minute quadrangle map. The surface area to be disturbed is owned by Barbara and William Jones, Sr. and Jon Betts.
The application has been filed for public inspection at the Department for Surface Mining and Reclamation and Enforcement’s Middlesboro Kentucky Regional Office, 1804 East Cumberland Ave., Middlesboro, KY 40965. Written comments, objections, or requests for a permit conference must be filed with the Director, Division of Permits, 300 Sower Boulevard, 2nd Floor, Frankfort, KY 40601.
After five years on the sidelines, Jason Chappell resigned Monday as head football coach at Whitley County High School.
“He met with the team this morning,” Superintendent John Siler said of Chappell.
Since taking over the program in 2014, Chappell has compiled a record of 29-28, winning the district title in 2016 when the team finished 9-3.
Siler credited Chappell for building up the program, which was coming off of a one-win season and turning out approximately 40 players at the Class 5A school.
“It was just the grind,” Siler said when asked if Chappell offered a reason for the decision, explaining that during the offseason, the coach must still oversee his players in conditioning and weight lifting programs.
Siler said Chappell would remain at the school where he teaches special education.
“We have got some big shoes to fill,” Siler said of finding the next coach for the program adding there is no timeframe for filling the position.
Neither Chappell nor Athletic Director Bryan Stewart could be reached for comment.
Laurel County Sheriff’s deputies will be taking the results of an investigation of a shooting at a veterans club in Lily to the grand jury.
Deputy Gilbert Acciardo said the grand jury will determine whether criminal charges are warranted against William Helton of Corbin. Helton allegedly shot Donnie Mabe during a scuffle in the parking lot of the club on U.S. 25 Saturday morning.
Deputies were called to investigate after Mabe walked into the ER at Baptist Health Corbin suffering from multiple gunshot wounds to the chest, arms and left thigh.
Mabe had allegedly been involved in an ongoing dispute with Helton that continued outside the club.
At some point, Helton produced a pistol, which Acciardo described as a Derringer, and fired once.
“It was loaded with three balls and buckshot,” Acciardo said of the pistol.
Mabe was abled to make it to his vehicle and drove to the hospital where he walked inside for treatment.
He was later transferred to The University of Kentucky Medical Center.
UK officials were unable to give an update on Mabe’s condition.
Acciardo said Helton called Laurel dispatch and reported that he thought he had shot someone during a scuffle in the parking lot at AMVETS.
Detective Gary Mehler is continuing the investigation.
“We have conflicting accounts of what happened,” Acciardo said.
Acciardo said that despite the rumors, deputies very rarely receive complaints about the club.
“We haven’t really had any problems that I’m aware of,” Acciardo said explaining that as part of his job he sees every arrest citation.
“I don’t know of any DUI crashes we have worked where the individual said they had been drinking at AMVETS,” he said.
The Whitley County Health Department is looking for a new public health director following a special called meeting Thursday evening where the current director was terminated.
The Whitley County Board of Health met in executive session for over an hour during Thursday’s special meeting to discuss personnel matters, said Williamsburg Mayor Roddy Harrison, who is a board of health member.
“It was lengthy. We discussed quite a bit of things then we came out of executive session and voted in such a manner that our collective statement as a board is the Whitley County Health Department Board has decided to go in a different direction and that Martha Steele is no longer the director of the Whitley County Health Department,” Harrison said.
Harrison said that he couldn’t say why the board decided to go in a different direction.
“It is one of those things we just decided would be best moving in a different direction,” he added.
Tamara Phelps will serve as acting or interim director until a permanent replacement is named.
Harrison said that all the department heads were notified about the decision Friday morning.
According to the minutes of the meeting, it began at 7 p.m. at the Whitley County Health Department in Williamsburg.
About 7:25 p.m., the board went into executive session, and returned to regular session about 8:53 p.m.
“Upon return from executive session, the following actions were taken: Martha Steele is no longer the Director of the Whitley County Health Department. The Board is moving in a different direction,” the minutes stated.
Board members present for the meeting, included: Chairman Dr. David Williams, Vice-Chair Don Creech, Jill West, Harrison, Doug Karr, Ramona Davis, Whitley County Judge-Executive Pat White Jr. and Candice Troxell.
Members not present at the meeting were Paul Rains, Dr. Aaron House, veterinarian Dr. Michael Culver and DDM Shera Newcomb, according to the minutes of the meeting.
Harrison said that all the board members, who were in attendance at the meeting, were in favor of the change.
During the board of health’s Oct. 29 quarterly meeting, the board of health also met in executive session about “personnel” for 90 minutes, but took no formal action, according to minutes from the meeting.
The minutes don’t indicate which personnel were discussed in executive session.
New director sought
Cynthia Rice, administrative services manager at the health department, has been authorized to begin advertising for Steele’s permanent replacement, Harrison said.
Harrison noted that the board also agreed Thursday to begin the process of seeking applications and resumes for the public health director’s position.
Harrison is unsure how long the hiring process will take.
The entire board will serve as the interview committee for the finalists.
Both internal and external candidates have been discussed, but Harrison said the board doesn’t have any specific candidates in mind.
“There is not any one person or set standards we are looking for as a board,” Harrison said. “Right now there have been no names mentioned.”
Steele was hired as public health director in November 2014, and replaced Gail Timperio, who retired from the position.
Steele did not respond to two requests for comment about the situation Friday afternoon.
Williams also could not be reached for comment Friday afternoon. A message was left at his home seeking comment.
Steele’s tenure as director hasn’t been without some issues.
In March 2017, the board of health conducted two special called meetings regarding personnel matters over a three-week period.
At the end of the March 2, 2017, three and one-half hour board meeting, which included three hours of meeting in executive session to discuss “personnel” issues, the board ended the meeting taking “no action” regarding Steele’s resignation.
Williams noted after the meeting that Steele was still the director and would be for the foreseeable future.
About 10 employees spoke out during that meeting on Steele’s behalf some of whom noted that Steele upset some other employees by asking them to do their jobs rather than just sitting there drawing a paycheck and doing very little else.
On March 20, 2017, the board of health held a second special called meeting that lasted for two hours to discuss “personnel matters,” but again took no formal action.
At the time Williams declined to say if the executive session of the March 20, 2017, meeting pertained to the executive session at the March 2, 2017, meeting.