Eric C. Conn Court Hearing Cancelled

A court hearing that was scheduled for this morning in Floyd County where attorney Eric C. Conn was ordered to appear has been cancelled. It is currently unknown when the case, which was scheduled to take place today in Floyd County Circuit Court, will be rescheduled.

Letcher County Skate Park Faces Closing

In Letcher County, the community is debating on whether or not a local skating park should be closed. Safety concerns have been discussed by parents saying some children are preyed on at the Letcher County Skate Park. Others are saying such accusations are blown out of proportion. One parent said her daughter went to the park a few weeks ago and came home drunk. Another parent said he son was assaulted there recently and has filed a second degree assault charge against a Whitesburg resident. A frequent skater at the park, however, said he has never seen such behavior and rumors are being spread to give the park a negative outlook. The park currently closes at 11:00pm and a petition has been started urging officials to keep it open.

Mountain Empire College Offering UAV Courses

In Big Stone Gap, Virginia, a new course is being offered at Mountain Empire Community College where students can learn how unmanned aerial vehicles, also known as UAV’s, could possibly create economic growth in the region. The drones have become more affordable and instructors at the school say now is the best time for people to get involved while the technology is still new. Video cameras on some of the drones provide a pilot view from inside the cockpit, and students will learn this summer how to build the drones. Instructors said the drones could be used for economic purposes by working mine reclamation sites or farms. While exciting, students must also take into consideration privacy issues that come with the new technology. The course is set to be offered this summer, and again in the fall.

Martin County Man Arrested For Accused Theft of Deceased Couple

In Martin County, a man has been arrested after being accused of stealing electronic items that belonged to a couple who died last week in a Pennsylvania car accident. Jonathan Mollett was arrested yesterday by the Martin County Sheriff and charged with theft. Virgil Perry and Sharon Newsome were killed in the car crash last week and Mollett is a cousin of Newsome. Officials say they found a television and weed eater that belonged to the couple.

Monday Storms Leave Many Without Power

Yesterday’s severe storms caused damage throughout the region as fallen trees and power lines left many without power. Kentucky Power reported almost 1,000 customers in Pike County and just over 1,000 in Breathitt County were without power. Lawrence, Magoffin, and Morgan Counties were said to have between one to two hundred customers without service in each county. The storms also hit West Virginia with Appalachian Power saying around 2,800 in Logan County were without power and Mingo County said about 700 lost power there.

Historic Pikeville Train Will Still Be Moved

City officials in Pikeville are saying the proposed move of the historic train that sits downtown has been postponed. It was scheduled to be moved Saturday but officials have said this is a temporary measure and it’s still being sold and moved. An Irish Pub will be put on the site where the train, a part of downtown Pikeville for 40 years, currently sits.

Former Conn Clients To Receive Benefits This Week

Good news came out of Frankfort for the former clients of Floyd County attorney Eric C. Conn. Representative Hal Rogers’ office said the SSA began the process of reinstating the social security benefits for those clients on June 4th. For those who elected to receive payment by direct deposit (which was approximately 97%), the benefits should be received in those individuals’ accounts by tomorrow or earlier. For those who asked to receive checks by mail, they will be placed in the mail this week and could be received, depending on mail service, as early as the end of this week.

Suspects In Rockcastle County Murder Case Claim Innocence

The suspects in the murder case of a Rockcastle County woman have told the press that they are innocent of the charges against them. 86 year old Mary Hinton was found dead on Wednesday Morning from blunt force trauma after her home on Red Hill Road in Livingston was broken into on Tuesday night. 35 year old Kimberly Slusher and 30 year old Tabitha Howard were arrested and charged on Wednesday with murder, first-degree burglary, tampering with physical evidence, public intoxication of a controlled substance and fleeing or evading police in addition to other charges. The two are accused of breaking into Hinton’s home and police say they took some of her property afterwards. It is not known at this time why the 86 year old blind woman who also suffered from hearing loss was targeted in the robbery. Information on the evidence that connected police to Howard and Slusher (who are in a relationship) has not been released. Howard said they were targeted because of a previous criminal history and the fact that they walked past Hinton’s home often. The police report says when officers went to interview the two about the investigation; they ran into a nearby wooden area. Canines and a helicopter were used to track the two women down and the canines were forced to bite the women as they would not come out of hiding. While both admitted to using drugs, neither admitted to the murder of Hinton.

EPA To Provide 400,000 Grant to Cumberland Valley Area Development

Environmental Protection Agency officials have selected four projects in the state of Kentucky for grant money, and one of them is in Eastern Kentucky. 400,000 dollars will be given to the Cumberland Valley Area Development District who will use the money to conduct site inspections of Brownfield sites. Officials will be allowed to discuss eight clean-up plans as well.

Social Security Disability Payments Restored….

Newly released by the Lexington Herald, Hal Rogers has stated that (over 900) Social Security and Disability Checks ARE going out!! Below is what has went out in the Lexington Harold just hours ago!

“The federal government will restore Social Security disability payments to hundreds of people in Eastern Kentucky whose checks were suspended pending a review of their eligibility, easing fears of economic ruin for many families.

U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers, a Republican who represents the region, announced the decision Thursday.

Rogers had met with several Social Security officials Wednesday and asked them to lift the agency’s earlier decision to suspend benefits, citing the hardship it would cause.

The move to suspend checks could have left hundreds of people in Eastern Kentucky with little or no income for a year or more.

That had caused fears about people not being able to afford food or medicine or losing their homes. The loss of benefits might even have played a role in three suicides.

During his meeting with Social Security officials, “I was rather blunt that this is a matter of life and death,” Rogers said.

The acting administrator of the Social Security Administration, Carolyn Colvin, called him Thursday to confirm that the agency would restore disability payments to people who received notice last month about being suspended.

About 900 people got the notices. Most of them live in Eastern Kentucky and West Virginia.

Rogers said he didn’t know exactly when checks would go out, but he thought it would be within days.

“I’m elated,” Rogers said. He had been worried about the potential for more suicides, he said. “This is an enormous relief to me. I’m overjoyed for the recipients who will now be able to afford medicine and food.”

Prestonsburg attorney Ned Pillersdorf, who is helping represent people in the issue, said Rogers’ successful request to restore benefits to people ranked as an accomplishment worthy of the memory of Carl D. Perkins. The Democrat from Knott County represented Eastern Kentucky in the U.S. House for more than 30 years, using his post to push for improved education, mine safety and programs to help poor people.

“He acted like Carl D. Perkins today,” Pillersdorf said of Rogers. “In my view, that’s the highest compliment you can give to a Kentucky politician.”

The suspensions affected former clients of Floyd County lawyer Eric C. Conn.

The Social Security Administration notified 900 people that their payments had been suspended because of suspicion that the cases Conn submitted for them included fraudulent information from four doctors.

The SSA is going through a process to redetermine eligibility for disability benefits on about 1,500 former clients of Conn.

The 600 who were not immediately suspended receive a different form of disability benefit called Supplemental Security Income.

A U.S. Senate investigation released in 2013 included allegations that Conn’s firm submitted medical evidence from doctors who did not properly examine some claimants and that Conn improperly colluded with David B. Daugherty, a Social Security judge who rubber-stamped benefits for Conn’s clients with little scrutiny.

A spokeswoman for the SSA said the agency has to make a new determination of a person’s eligibility for disability benefits when there is reason to suspect that fraud was involved in the earlier application.

However, there is no evidence that Conn’s clients knew about or took part in alleged fraud, according to a lawsuit that Pillersdorf and other attorneys filed for the people who lost benefits.

Conn’s attorney said he did nothing wrong in representing people and that the government should not have cut off payments to his former clients.”

-Lexington Herold