Last updated: July 18. 2013 7:35PM - 609 Views
Ralph B. Davis

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20 years ago

(Feb. 24 and Feb. 26, 1993)

An attorney for Education Commissioner Thomas Boysen made an abrupt about-face, Monday evening, in closing comments to the state board of education, recommending that the board reprimand, rather than remove, Floyd County board chairman Ray “Shag” Campbell. Just prior to making that request, Boysen’s attorney, Steve Wolnitzek, and Office of Education Accountability investigator Steve Yater were overheard finalizing language for closing comments that would have asked the state board to remove Campbell for misconduct. The change from removal to reprimand apparently was made by Boysen, who conferred briefly with Wolnitzck outside the board meeting room just before closing comments were made.

A Floyd County Grand Jury handed down 34 true bills, Friday, which included a 12-count indictment against a Wheelwright man who pulled a loaded gun and threatened to kill the police chief, at a Wheelwright City Commission meeting, last month. Grand jurors charged Rodney Thornsberry, 38, with criminal attempt to commit murder and 11 counts of first degree wanton endangerment. Thornsberry was charged with attempted murder for pointing a loaded gun at Wheelwright Police Chief Bob Moore at a Wheelwright Commission meeting January 23. Wanton endangerment charges resulted when Thornsberry wrestled with Moore over the gun which was pointed in the direction of 12 people who attended the meeting.

Tragedy struck in Prestonsburg, Monday evening, when a 32-year-old mother of three was apparently accidentally shot to death by her own 13-year-old son. Theda Rose Gayheart Walters, of Prestonsburg, died, Monday, as the result of a single gunshot wound to the side, Captain Darrel Conley, of the Prestonsburg Police Department, said Tuesday. Conley and patrolman Rick Kendrick responded to reports of a gunshot at 405 North Central Avenue at around 6 p.m., Conley said. There, they discovered Walters lying on the floor surrounded by her three children. Her husband, Tony Ray Walters, told police that he was visiting a sick relative at the time of the incident. Conley said that the boy was apparently playing with a single-shot 12-gauge that he thought was unloaded, when the firearm discharged accidentally, striking his mother.

A friendly argument apparently exploded in violence, early Sunday morning, when a Floyd County man allegedly stabbed a friend to death in a drunken rage. According to Floyd County Sheriff Paul Hunt Thompson, Chad Edward Lovely, 19, of Wayland, and Michael Lloyd Manns, 23, of Seitz, were engaged in a friendly poker match, Saturday night, at a friend’s house at Estill. The two began arguing, Thompson said, and had apparently settled their differences when Lovely allegedly plunged a five-inch knife into Manns’ back. Manns, the brother of Lovely’s step-father, was pronounced dead at the scene by Floyd County Coroner Roger E. Nelson.

A Floyd County woman was killed at Ligon, Monday evening, in an auto accident that police say was an alcohol-related murder. Cora Tackett Booth, 66, of Hi Hat, was a passenger in a vehicle driven south on Kentucky 979 by her daughter-in-law, 33-year-old Pearl Booth, when a northbound vehicle, driven by Glennis Gayheart, of Beaver, crossed the center lane and struck the Booth vehicle head-on. Cora Booth was pronounced dead at the scene by Floyd County Deputy Coroner Buddy Smith. Gayheart, 20, who was allegedly driving under the influence of alcoholic beverages, is expected to be charged with murder.

A commemorative service will be held, this Sunday, marking the 35th anniversary of the 1958 school bus, tragedy that focused the eyes of the nation on Floyd County. On Friday, February 28, 1958, a Floyd County school bus, bearing 46 children and one adult, struck two vehicles, teetered momentarily on the brink of an 83-foot embankment, and plunged into the icy, rain-swollen waters of the Big Sandy River at Knotley Hollow, near Cow Creek. Twenty-six children and one adult died that day. Douglas L. “Dootney” Horn, driver of the first vehicle the bus struck, along with eyewitnesses, Bennie Blackburn and C.O. Williams, dove into the icy river and helped pull twenty of the stranded children to safety before the bus tragically, inevitably submerged, trapping the other 27 passengers.

It appears that plans to bring live harness racing to eastern Kentucky may have once again stalled in the starting gate, Floyd County Development Authority Executive Director Darrell Gilliam told Development Authority board members, Wednesday. Gilliam said that the proposed Kentucky Downs harness track/convention center project continues to be plagued by both financial and time restraints. Initial construction of the track has stalled, Gilliam said, because a necessary change in the track’s configuration has required the additional removal and grading of several thousand tons of additional earth that were not included in original feasibility studies.

There died: James Walter Henegar, 60, of Wayland, Monday, at South Williamson Appalachian Regional Hospital; Theda Rose Gayheart Walters, 32, of Prestonsburg, Monday, at her residence, victim of a gunshot wound; Earnest Moore, 68, of Martin, Thursday, at Parkview Manor Nursing Home in Pikeville; Hatler Jones, 45, of Beaver, Friday, at U.K. Medical Center, Lexington; Cora Tackett Booth, 66, of Hi Hat, Monday, at Ligon, from injuries sustained in an automobile accident; John Albert Calder, 78, of Louisville, Saturday, at the Baptist Hospital East; Cora P. Robinette, 83, of Harold, Monday, at Parkview Manor Nursing Home, Robinson Creek; Clarence “Dog” Slone, 69, of Langley, Sunday, at Our Lady of the Way Hospital; Easter Mae Lowe, 56, of Harold, Tuesday, at the University Hospital, Augusta, Georgia; Luther Thornsberry, 71, of Willard, Ohio, formerly of Wheelwright, February 15, at Mercy Hospital, Willard; Oakie Shepherd, 82, of Gunlock, February 13, at his residence; Clyde Stephens, 41, of Van Lear, Tuesday, at U. K. Medical Center, Lexington; Sofa Hall, 92, of Kite, Wednesday, at Whitesburg Hospital; William L. (Mato) Martin, 78, of New London, Ohio, native of Harold, Thursday, at his home; Ethel Ward, 70, of Tomahawk, Tuesday, at Three Rivers Medical Center in Louisa; George Woods, 95, of Prestonsburg, Wednesday, in the Riverview Manor Nursing Home; Ollie R. Combs, 87, of Fisty, Tuesday, at Hazard Appalachian Regional Hospital.

30 years ago

(Wednesday, March 2, 1983)

A year ago, a new county administration under Judge-Executive Jerry Lafferty Jr., bewailed the financial shambles it inherited. From a state report released, it appears this administration has made quite a mess of its own, and state finance officer Robert L. Purdon had stepped in to take partial control of the situation.

The vacancy left by the death of County Clerk C. “Ollie” Robinson was filled Friday by Thomas D. Lafferty Jr., nephew of Judge-Executive Jerry Lafferty Jr.

Eighteen cases of the highly contagious liver disease, hepatitis, have been reported in this county recently; usually about 10 to 15 cases a year are reported here.

There died: Willie B. Lawson, 62, of Betsy Layne, Friday, in Lexington; Woodrow Burke, 58, of Bevinsville, last Wednesday at his home; Farris Johnson Sr., 70, of Garrett, last Tuesday in Lexington; William G. Holbrook, 33, of Middle Creek, Friday; John Henry Hamilton, son of Burnis and Peggy Sue Adkins of Galveston, was stillborn Saturday at Pikeville Methodist Hospital; Wilda Sells Demurray, 83, of Wheelwright, last Thursday, in Columbus, Ohio; Mary Ethel Hall Foley, 88, of Betsy Layne, last Tuesday, at Pikeville Methodist Hospital; Rebecca H. Dingus, 90, of Prestonsburg, last Wednesday, at Riverview Manor Nursing Home; and Ethel J. Cooley, 69, of Garrett, last Wednesday, at McDowell Appalachian Regional Hospital.

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