Somerset

Owners and managers at several Pulaski County convenience stores are accused of recruiting shoplifters to bring them stolen items for them to resell. Grand jury indictments charge ten people with engaging in organized crime. Some of the defendants also are charged with food stamp fraud.

Police were alerted to the thefts by Gary Jones, a retired Somerset detective working as a loss-prevention officer at Kroger. He told police that several shoplifters he had detained said they were stealing to sell to local convenience stores.

A Kentucky lawmaker says his hometown city hall intruded into the free market by going into the retail gas business. Sen. Chris Girdler says he's preparing legislation that could shut down the pumps to the public.

The Republican's proposal comes months after the city of Somerset opened a retail gas station. The no-frills venture on the outskirts of town unnerved filling station and convenience store operators.

Girdler says his bill seeks to assure private business that government won't compete for their customers.

Somerset Mayor Eddie Girdler says the proposal amounts to an overreaction to something that's working. He says the feedback from customers has been overwhelmingly positive.

The Girdlers are distant relatives.

Pulaski County Detention Center

The attorney for the Somerset man accused in the fatal shooting of defense attorney Mark Stanziano this summer may be formulating an insanity defense in the case.  The lawyer for 40-year-old Clinton Inabnitt has filed notice of a potential insanity defense. 

The Herald-Leader reports a psychiatrist testified at a hearing Tuesday that Inabnitt is schizophrenic, delusional and refuses to take his medication.  On June 27, prosecutors say Inabnitt shot Stanziano multiple times outside his office in downtown Somerset.  

The judge in the case ordered Inabnitt to be given anti-psychotic medication -- forcibly if needed --  and says he’ll re-evaluate the case in 60 days.

Three Pulaski County residents are being charged with passing counterfeit money throughout the region.

The three were arrested this week by the Pulaski County Sherriff’s Department. The Herald-Leader reports that 37-year-old James Diars of Somerset; 54-year-old Linda Alton of Tateville, and 51-year-old Betty Stewart of Burnside were arrested after sheriff’s deputies investigated a report alleging that someone tried to pass counterfeit bills at a southern Pulaski County business.

Deputies later determined the suspects were trying to buy merchandise with the fake bills.

The Pulaski County Sheriff’s office says a separate fake bill that was later recovered had the same serial numbers as other fake bills confiscated by both the Somerset Police Department and by police in Danville.

The three suspects were being held in the Pulaski County jail, and are each facing charges of criminal possession of a forged instrument.

After years of complaints about high gas prices in Somerset, Ky., the city council and mayor did something about it. Last month, Somerset began selling gasoline to the public.

"It should have been this way years ago — fair," says Bob Thomas as he fills up his green pickup truck at the municipal Somerset Fuel Center.

The price is $3.36 a gallon, lower than the statewide average.

Emil Moffatt

Late Wednesday morning Bob Thomas was pontificating about the state of the local economy and congress as he was filling up his green Toyota pickup truck at the city owned fuel station.  The facility is bare-bones with no snacks, no sodas and no lottery tickets.  It’s not on a main thoroughfare, but set back a bit from Highway 27.

It has been open less than a week, but has generated plenty of controversy and nationwide attention. It’s believed Somerset is the first municipality to sell gasoline directly to customers.

“It should have been this way years ago: fair,” said Thomas.  “You get me? If the people at the refinery is making money on the gas and the city is going to make a little money. I don’t mind you making you a  living whenever you come to work for me and pay you a fair wage.  But I don’t want to send you to the Bahamas on a 30 day vacation, though.”

It was complaints similar to Thomas’ that led Somerset’s City Council to broach the topic of selling its own gasoline.  The city had already been selling compressed natural gas for two years. In fact, much of the infrastructure the city needed to begin selling gasoline was already in place to service Somerset’s fleet vehicles.

Master Musicians Festival

Counting Crows, a band which had several hits in the 1990s, is set to perform this weekend at the Master Musicians Festival in Somerset.  The schedule of artists also includes St. Paul and the Broken Bones, a band featured in March on Morning Edition.

Festival president Tiffany Bourne says organizers aren’t restricted to any particular kind of music when they finalize the lineup.

“We just look at any and all genres for musical excellence,” said Bourne. “We try to bring musical excellence to rural Kentucky.  We don’t really have a criteria, we just pick what we think the crowd’s gonna like.”

Bourne says this weekend’s lineup will include some local fare.  Four local singer-songwriters have been chosen to perform in the “Songwriter Social” at Noon Eastern Saturday.

“That’s another great part of our festival is that we have a lot of local bands that get to share the same stage as national artists,” said Bourne.

Classmates of a murdered Somerset attorney are honoring his memory by seeking to create an endowment in his name. Mark Stanziano, 57, was shot and killed June 27 outside his law office in downtown Somerset. A suspect charged with the murder has pleaded not guilty.

Shortly after news of the killing broke, a group of Stanziano’s former University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law classmates decided to begin a fundraising campaign towards an endowment that would benefit the school’s moot court team.

U of L development officer J.P. Davis says the team offers law students the chance to practice what they’ve learned in a mock courtroom setting.

“The competition actually provides students with the opportunity to practice traditional appellate advocacy, mock trials, and alternative dispute resolution skills. It basically gives them an experiential opportunity to hone in on those skills,” Davis told WKU Public Radio.  

Davis says the school is setting a $25,000 goal for the endowment.

SOAR Conference Begins in Somerset

Apr 24, 2014

The next step in the "Shaping Our Appalachian Region", or SOAR initiative, is taking place Thursday.  Ten working groups will be mapping out strategies and preparing to take more suggestions from eastern Kentuckians.

The ten SOAR working groups cover everything from agriculture to broadband to business recruitment.   Dentist Nikki Stone with the University of Kentucky Center for Rural Health heads up a group examining health issues.  She admits Appalachian Kentucky has some of the worst health conditions in the nation, but also some of the most passionate people with innovative ideas.  Stone says some past practices also deserve attention.  

"My grandparents lived way up into their 90's.  You know, they ate healthier foods.  They grew their own foods.  They got a lot more exercise than what we're getting now.  So, I think if we bring back some of the older traditions, we'll be a healthier group of people," said Stone.

Kentucky Explorer

A bluegrass musician buried in an unmarked grave in Somerset is going to receive a proper grave marker this weekend.

Leonard Rutherford was a popular bluegrass artist in the 1920s, 30s, and 40s, and performed as part of the Burnett-Rutherford Duo.

But Rutherford fell on hard times and was found dead along a Somerset road in 1951 at the age of 53.

Somerset Cemetery manager Tricia Neal says Rutherford's grave site was only recently identified when a local historian began asking about the long-forgotten musician.

"I started looking and I couldn't find him anywhere,” Neal told WKU Public Radio. “And I ended up just finding a penciled-in name on the back of an old index card. It had a note where he had been buried in this grave, and I went out to the cemetery and found it."

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