Clatworthy Named 2019 Big Sandy Idol

Photo: Big Sandy Community and Technical College

The 2019 Big Sandy Idol has been chosen. On Friday, March 15, 2019, runners-up from each school performed in the Willard and Lucy Kinzer Theater at the Mountain Arts Center for a wild card chance to advance to Saturday night’s competition. The wild card spot went to Shawn Leslie of Prestonsburg High School. The coveted title of Big Sandy Idol went to Kassidy Clatworthy of Wesley Christian High School, who sang “Hurt” by Christina Aguilera. Her winnings include a full scholarship to Big Sandy Community and Technical College, a spot with the Big Sandy Singers and Band, and an album recording. First runner-up was Zoe Howard of Magoffin County High School, following by Jack Lakin of Pikeville High School. The Big Sandy Singers and Band and the Big Sandy Idol Regional Competition have awarded more than $500,000 in scholarships since its inception.

Search Warrant Executed Following Bootlegging Investigation in Laurel County

On Wednesday, March 20, 2019, the Kentucky Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control executed a search warrant at American Patriots in Laurel County. The search uncovered over 100 bottles of distilled spirits, around 1,000 bottles of malt beverages, several gallons of moonshine, and at least six illegal gambling machines. Due to being located in a dry territory, American Patriots does not hold, nor could it hold, any type of alcohol beverage license from the Department, which regulates and licenses alcohol sales in the Commonwealth. The warrants and search is a result of a yearlong investigation into bootlegging activities associated with American Patriots.

Murder Indictment Issued for May 2018 Crash

A parolee in Floyd County has been indicted on murder charges. On Wednesday, March 20, 2019, the Floyd County Grand Jury returned an indictment on Elizabeth Lemaster, of Meally, for the murder of Jessica Owens, of Salyersville. The incident occurred on May 23, 2018, when a vehicle operated by Lemaster crossed the center line, colliding head-on with the vehicle operated by Owens. Following a six-month investigation and collision reconstruction, Sergeant Ross Shurtleff determined Lemaster, who was on parole at the time for a drug trafficking conviction, was under the influence at the time and operating without a license. The indictment warrant was served at the Big Sandy Regional Detention Center, where Lemaster was incarcerated for a parole violation.

Fatal Collision in Johnson County

The Kentucky State Police Post 9 Pikeville responded to a motor vehicle crash in Johnson County on Thursday, March 21, 2019. Just before 3:30pm, Johnson County 911 notified Post 9 of the incident involving a logging truck and a passenger vehicle. One person was pronounced deceased at the scene, with another transported to Paul B. Hall Medical Center in Paintsville for treatment, but was later pronounced deceased by the Johnson County Coroner’s Office. Troopers conducted a reconstruction investigation at the scene of the crash. Names of the victims will be released at a later time, pending notification of next of kin.

Hubble Exhibit Returns to East Kentucky Science Center


NASA’s Hubble Exhibit is once again on display at the East Kentucky Science Center. A reception was held on Friday, March 8, 2019 for the return of the exhibit, which was facilitated by Education and Public Outreach Engineer for NASA, Maurice Henderson. The Science Center also features the debut of the “Science on a Sphere” with the Hubble Exhibit. Ace Hardware in Prestonsburg assisted in connecting the Sphere to the exhibit, playing a key role in its setup. The Hubble Space Telescope with the Science on a Sphere Exhibit will be on display at the East Kentucky Science Center through May 18, 2019. The science center will be open to the public Tuesday through Friday from 1-4pm and Saturday from noon to 4pm.

Kentucky Spring Forest Fire Hazard Season Going on Now

The Kentucky Division of Forestry reminds citizens that the Spring Forest Fire Hazard Season is currently being observed until April 30, 2019. During the forest fire hazard season, it is illegal to burn between the hours of 6am and 6pm within 150 feet of any woodland or brushland. The Division of Forestry reports that they have responded to over 100 fires this year, the majority being attributed to arson. On Wednesday, March 20, 2019, 27 fires were reported in counties including Pike, Perry, Letcher, Knott, and Magoffin.


Beshear Launches Prescription Drug Price Hike Investigation

Attorney General Andy Beshear has launched an investigation into allegations that state pharmacy benefit managers have overcharges the state health insurance programs for prescription drugs and discriminated against independent pharmacies. According to the Attorney General’s Office, a report released in February 2019 by the state indicated two PBMs took in $123.5 million in 2018 from the state Medicaid program by paying pharmacies a lower rate to fill prescriptions, while charging the state more for the same drugs. Beshear said he is investigating PBMs to identity and recover any profits improperly retained at the expense of Kentucky.

Fatal Collision in Whitesburg

On Thursday, March 21, 2019, Kentucky State Police Post 13 received a call around 6:59am of a crash on the Whitesburg Bypass. Emergency personnel responded to the scene. Preliminary investigation determined that 35-year-old Michael Fugate, of Jenkins, was operating a 1994 Chevrolet Beretta northbound on KY 15, when the car crossed the center line and traveled into the southbound lane. Fugate’s car collided with a 2012 Toyota Camry being driven by 50-year-old Cecilia Swiney of Jeremiah. Swiney and her passenger, 48-year-old Angela Slone, were transported to Whitesburg ARH for treatment. Swiney was later air-lifted to  Holston Valley Medical Center, where she is listed in critical condition. Slone was treated and released. Fugate was pronounced deceased at the scene. Seat belts were not in use in either vehicle.

Floyd County Schools Compete at State Governor’s Cup Competition

Floyd County Superintendent Danny Adkins has announced the Floyd County Schools’ students results at the KAAC State Governor’s Cup competition held the weekend of March 16, 2019 in Louisville. The Duff-Allen Central Elementary Community Problem Solving Team was State Middle School Runner Up with their project “Essentials for Santa.” The South Floyd Elementary team placed third in the state with their project, “Clean Up Left Beaver.” Individually, several students competing from the Floyd County School District ranked in the top 40 of students in Kentucky at the state competition.

Governor Bevin Signs Abortion Ban Bill

On Tuesday, March 19, 2019, Governor Matt Bevin sign House Bill 5 into law, known as the Human Rights of the Unborn Child and Anti-Discrimination Act. House Bill 5 bans abortions based on race, gender, color, national origin, or disability. US District Judge David Hale issued a temporary restraining order on Friday, March 15, 2019 against the bill and Senate Bill 9, claiming they violated the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. In a response, legal counsel’s said a temporary restraining order would cause “substantial harm” to the medical profession in the Commonwealth, asserting that “doctors must be viewed as healers, not as enablers and practitioners of eugenics.”