Archive for November, 2009
Today was Black Friday, which I’ve been told is so named because the stores make a profit and put themselves into the black. I would also believe it’s black because that’s the color of the sky when everyone’s shopping, or black because people get into fights and turn each other black and blue. I wound up driving to KMart in Danville at 5:30 this morning to take photos and talk to shoppers.
Further developments in stolen morphine case
Judge-Executive John Wilson’s office has given me copies of letters sent to Thomas Shelton from John Wilson, first suspending and then firing him. In both letters, Wilson writes that Shelton has already admitted to stealing the morphine.
From the first letter, suspending Shelton on Sept. 14:
Dear Mr. Shelton,
This letter will serve as your written notice pursuant to Section 5 of the Garrard County Personnel Policy that you have been suspended without pay, effective immediately until further notice.
Your department head has requested your suspension due to your alleged misconduct in being responsible for theft of drugs from EMS. It is my understanding that you have confessed responsibility for this to both Director Colby Arnold and to state police Detective Bill Collins. This suspension is necessary to assure public confidence in governmental oversight of its employees and to assure the integrity of the county’s inquiry into the allegations.
I consider this alleged offense to be severe enough to warrant your immediate suspension. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Sincerely, John Wilson
And from the second letter, firing Shelton on Oct. 13:
Dear Mr. Shelton,
This letter will serve as your written notice pursuant to Section 5 of the Garrard County Personnel Policy that you have been terminated effective immediately.
You are being terminated for the offense of theft of narcotic medications from the Ambulance Service. You have allegedly admitted this to both Director Colby Arnold and State Police Detective Bill Collins. I consider this offense to be serious enough for dismissal on the first offense.
I request that you turn in any equipment you have belonging to the county as soon as possible. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Sincerely, John Wilson
Watch for a story in today’s paper.
County passed morphine theft case to KSP
I talked with John Wilson yesterday about the case where Thomas Shelton allegedly stole morphine from the Garrard County ambulance service multiple times. He said as soon as ambulance service Director Colby Arnold told him what was going on he called state police and the county has been leaving the case in their hands since.
Wilson also provided some dates concerning the case. Shelton was suspended on Sept. 14 and terminated Oct. 13. Colby Arnold also informed the Kentucky Board of Emergency Medical Services (KBEMS) about the case immediately after discovering it, Wilson said. A person in the legal office at KBEMS told me yesterday that there was a complaint filed concerning Shelton on Sept. 14 and there’s an ongoing investigation.
Today I’ll be contacting state police and trying to get some more info from them. Watch for another update tomorrow and possibly a story in the paper.
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Garrard’s Old Hospital Debt
Garrard County got a check from KACo last week for around $32,000. Judge-Executive John Wilson explained to the fiscal court on Monday what would be done with the check, and a large portion of it — about $25,000 – is going to pay off some of the principal on the county’s old hospital debt. I got some interesting statistics from Deputy Judge-Executive James Bushnell about the hospital debt, before and after the county refinanced:
Original loan amount to cover hospital’s debt: $4.5 million
Balance on loan as of Jan. 1, 2007, before the refinancing: $4.05 million
Approximate balance today: $1.95 million
Interest payments before refinancing: about $20,000 per month
Interest payment this month: about $6,000
1. Facts still developing in morphine theft case
Last week EMS Thomas Shelton, 37, was charged with 21 counts of theft of a controlled substance after he allegedly took morphine from the Garrard County ambulance service’s supply.
Details are still mostly unavailable on what happened, but it looks like the alleged thefts were discovered by ambulance service director Colby Arnold several months ago and state police were called in to investigate.
No mention of the incident was made public until last week when it made it into the newspapers. Commonwealth’s Attorney Thomas Lockridge charged Shelton using an information, which is like an indictment without a grand jury. I can’t say how others discovered the story, but I learned of it through a series of anonymous tips.
I’m going to be looking into whether there was a complaint filed with the Kentucky Board of Emergency Medical Services (KBEMS) when the alleged theft was discovered, and examining what the policies of KBEMS and the Garrard ambulance service are in situations like this.
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2. Tobacco farmers learn what the market will pay
Last week I wrote a story about how the manager of a Danville tobacco warehouse was concerned that excess tobacco in the open market this year would be bad for farmers. Today the warehouse has its first auction and we will learn just how much the tobacco sells for. Last year the average was about $1.55 per pound.
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3. Garrard Farmer Honored
Garrard County farmer David Duncan Jr. won the title of “Farmer of the Year” at the Kentucky Small and Limited Resource Farmers Conference in Frankfort last week.
From the news release:
Mr. Duncan has been associated with farming since his childhood and bought his first farm in 1960. He purchased his Garrard County farm in 1996.
Since that time, he has applied numerous conservation practices as part of his farming operation. Working with federal, state and local conservation agencies, he has applied conservation practices to improve water quality, soil erosion and wildlife habitat.
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4. Fiscal Court meeting today
Garrard Fiscal Court is holding a special called meeting today, with the main item on the agenda being an “Energy efficiency and conservation block grant resolution.”
1. A Garrard County EMS employee has been charged with 21 counts of stealing morphine from the Garrard Ambulance Service’s supply. Read the story here.
2. I was in a tight spot for my Cool Rides segment after a person I found had to cancel at the last moment. Luckily I found Cindy Thoroughman, a chiropractor in Lancaster who has one of the new little Smart cars. She was extremely nice and let me profile her car on minutes’ notice, so thank you Cindy! The Cool Rides article is slated to be in Monday’s paper.
3. Looks like the Garrard Central Record covered a pair of fires on High Bridge Road during the past week. Once its paper is up online (usually on Saturday) I’ll post links here to their stories. The home of Bob and Sherry Shotts was badly damaged and a mobile home being rented by Virginia Huff was completely destroyed in two separate incidents. The residents of the house are receiving help from friends, family and the Red Cross. The residents of the mobile home are in need of some items. From the Central Record:
They need personal items, cleaning supplies and furniture. They also need clothing in the following sizes.
- 17-year-old boy, 42 or 44/32 length pants, 12-13 size shoes and 2x or 3x shirts;
- 16-year-old girl, 12/14 size pants, large shirts, 8-8.5 size shoes and 38/40 D bras;
- 7 1/2-year-old girl, pant size 12/14, large shirts, 4 youth size shoes;
- Virginia Huff, 12-14 size pants, large shirt, size 9 shoes and 38 C bras.
For those interested in donating items to the family, they can be taken to 390 Woodsprings Drive (neighborhood behind the Dollar Store on U.S. 27 North).
I’m heading over to the Garrard County High School this morning to talk to a journalism class about being a reporter. It should be pretty fun. I’ll post an update about how it went later today.
UPDATE: I had some good conversations with Garrard’s Gecho newspaper staff, and I’ll be looking over a few of their most recent papers and offering them some advice. We had fun talking about covering fires and accidents, shooting photos and telling people’s stories.
I was surprised by the number of guys and girls in the class who were interested in pursuing journalism in one form or another as their career. While the business model for journalism will have completely transformed by the time they graduate college, what journalism means and what it’s supposed to accomplish will not have changed at all, and it’s good to know there are people coming up who will be able to step into whatever journalism looks like down the road and keep working to tell people’s stories and get at the truth.
1. Beautify Garrard County has a blog post up about some volunteers who recently cleaned up roadways to support the local backpack club that helps to feed kids on free lunches at school when they go home for the weekend. Read the whole thing here.
2. I’m looking for local farms that participate in community-supported agriculture, where local residents can buy shares of a cow or a chicken or a field of veggies and then get a share of the milk, eggs or produce when it becomes available. Right now might be the off-season for such operations, but I’m hoping to find out which local farmers do this and when they’ll be revving up for the warmer months, so I’ll know when a story about this would be possible.
1. I received this announcement on Sunday from Danielle with the Garrard County Marching Band:
Garrard Band competed at BOA nationals and the scores have been posted and Garrard placed 6th overall in their class A bands. Great Job Garrard
2. I’m still trying to talk to a couple more businesses for my story about all the new ones that have opened or are opening in Garrard this year. I should have it done before Wednesday, and then it will run in the business section on a Sunday somewhere down the road.
3. The middle of the month is always a slower time for news, but I’m hopeful this blog can help keep me busy. Just because I don’t know about things that are going on doesn’t mean there aren’t things going on. If you know about any interesting stuff going on this week, let me know!
4. Over the weekend, some people up in the Netherlands set the world record for number of dominoes toppled in one try. With collapsing pyramids, a catapult and a hot air balloon of some sort, it’s a a very impressive video.
The Garrard County Humane Society had its first organizational meeting last night, and it looks like there’s a good amount of support for it. I counted more than 50 people at the meeting. Mark Hurte, the impetus behind the attempt to form a Humane Society, explained what a Humane Society is and what nearby humane societies do.
There seemed to be a lot of support among those who attended for building a new animal shelter or expanding or improving the current one. Judge-Executive John Wilson, several magistrates and Lancaster Mayor Don Rinthen were at the meeting, all of whom were supportive of creating the society.
Some of the discussion about what the Humane Society could do included offering pet events — like a pet walk for life or a picnic with the pets — and starting a wildlife sanctuary and an adoption program. The next meeting is December 10.