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December 31, 2013

2013: A Look Back

The top 10 stories that shaped the year

CORBIN — Stories compiled by Jeff Noble, John L. Ross, LeeAnn Cain & Brad Hall / Times-Tribune Staff

1. Three killed in Air Evac helicopter crash

On the night of Thursday, June 6, an Air Evac Lifeteam medical helicopter had just transported a patient to Saint Joseph-London hospital.

They were headed back to its home base in Manchester in Clay County, at a helipad off U.S. 421 near Paces Creek Elementary School.

They were so close. But they never made it back home.

The chopper was preparing to land on the helipad. Instead, crashed and burst into flames in the school’s parking lot, just after 11 p.m.

Three of Air Evac’s team were in the crash. All three died.

The three who perished were:

—Eddy Wayne Sizemore, 61, of London, the pilot and a former Laurel County Sheriff’s Deputy.

—Herman Lee Dobbs, 40, also of London, a Paramedic.

—And Jesse Lee Jones, 28, of Pineville, a Flight Nurse.

Authorities said heavy fog at the time may have been partly to blame for the crash.

Clay County Coroner Danny Finley said the fire from the crash was extinguished before he arrived at the scene just before midnight. The bodies were taken to Frankfort to the State Medical Examiner’s Office the next day for autopsies, which he added were to be completed that Saturday afternoon.

“The victims died on impact,” he stated Friday, June 7.

“We are devastated by this loss. These were members of our family,” said Air Evac President and CEO, Seth Myers.

Air Evac Lifeteam is a medical flight company based in the St. Louis suburb of O’Fallon, Missouri.

The Federal Aviation Administration was notified of the crash, as well as the National Transportation Safety Board, who investigates aircraft accidents. The NTSB crew arrived that Friday afternoon.

Four days after the crash, an investigator said it may be a year before the investigation is complete on what caused the helicopter to go down.

In an email, Shawn Etcher of the NTSB noted the on-scene investigation was completed, and the helicopter was taken to a secure facility in Georgia. From there, the investigation team would examine it in greater detail.

Two of the three funerals were held on Tuesday, June 11.

Eddy Sizemore’s funeral was the first, held at 2 p.m. at the First Baptist Church of London.

To honor Sizemore — a former colleague and fallen comrade — the Laurel County Sheriff’s Office in London closed that afternoon, to allow the staff to attend his funeral.

Inside the chapel, two Kentucky State Troopers stood on each side of his closed casket. An American flag was draped over the casket, which was in front of the pulpit.

It was noted that for his bravery and service under fire in Vietnam as a member of the U.S. Army, Sizemore was awarded both a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart.

Prior to the start of the service, a steady procession of law enforcement officers and staff, as well as first responders, walked by the casket and took their seats. The seats in the middle section of the main chapel filled up rapidly as those who knew and remembered Sizemore came to show their solidarity.

“Eddy Sizemore was a guy destined to be in the skies. He love to be above the trees. And he loved to serve others. He spent his entire life as a servant, in some capacity. I don’t think we’ll ever forget Air Evac 109,” said Rev. Gene Greene, Chaplain of the Laurel County Sheriff’s Department.

His burial followed at Locust Grove Cemetery in the Laurel County community of Keavy. During the end of the burial, an Air Evac helicopter similar to the one Sizemore and the crew of Flight 109 were on did a flyover for the family.

Jesse Jones’ funeral was held that Tuesday night in his native Bell County, at Creech Funeral Home Chapel in Pineville. Graveside services were held for Jones the next morning at the Maiden Cemetery on Upper Laurel Fork in the Bell County community of Frakes.

On Thursday, June 13, Lee Dobbs’ funeral was held at 10 a.m., at Hawk Creek Church on Route 80 West in London.

More than 300 persons attended the service. Many of those in the emergency services knew Dobbs, and were friends with him.

He was the wind beneath their wings.

At the celebration of life service, Dobbs was remembered as a “spirited medic,” who loved his job and loved teaching.

“He’s got his wings now, and that’s what we’re gonna hold on to,” said a friend and fellow first responder, Mary Messer of Knox County EMS.

“Lee was always thankful for things,” said Pastor Ronnie Trent, who talked about Dobbs’ childhood years and called Dobbs’ wife Emilee “the love of Lee’s life.” He then told those at the service, “I thank you for all that you’ve done for Emilee. I ask you to continue to pray for her and the (three) boys. You can’t guess what tomorrow holds.”

After the service, the funeral procession went down Route 80 West, turning right at I-75 and proceeded south to Corbin, when it got off Exit 29 onto U.S. 25 E.

Along 25E (the Cumberland Gap Parkway), from the I-75 exit to Master Street to the Corbin Bypass and in between, other first responders and everyday people showed their respect for Dobbs by lining up along the route.  

In Knox County — where he formerly worked as a paramedic with Knox County EMS — many waved American flags. Several held up signs, honoring his memory.

The procession passed through Gray, Barbourville and Flat Lick, before it went into Bell County and through the Cumberland Gap Tunnel.

Once the procession left Kentucky, first responders lined U.S. 25E in Tennessee.

Dobbs’ remains were taken to a funeral home in Rogersville, Tennessee where an additional visitation was held. An additional funeral service was held the next day at the funeral home, followed with the burial in Church Hill, Tennessee (near Kingsport), where he and his wife are originally from.

The 10 days of mourning ended on Saturday, June 15, when a memorial service for Dobbs, Jones and Sizemore was held at the North Laurel High School Gymnasium in London.

After the funerals of the their three crew members earlier in the week, it was Air Evac Lifeteam’s turn to remember them, in an emotional and moving service which started at 10 a.m. that day.

An estimated 300 persons, including the families of the the three who died, as well as Air Evac crews and first responders from Kentucky, Missouri, Illinois, Minnesota, North Carolina and other states, came to say goodbye to the crew of Flight 109 — also known as N114AE (“November One-One-Nine Alpha Echo”).

“I see uniforms of all colors. They all represent one thing. That’s the dedication to serve others. The attendance today is a testament of these three people who served. They loved doing what they did, and the crews working with them. They helped to save lives and make a difference in peoples’ lives. They’re gone from us today, but they’ll never be forgotten,” Air Evac Lifeteam’s President, Seth Myers, said to the audience.

Eulogies were given for Sizemore, Jones and Dobbs by friends and family during the memorial service.

In Jones’ case, Eliza Brooks started her nursing career with with him at Pineville Community Hospital. Speaking on behalf of his family, she noted, “He had an eagerness to learn more. … To the family, we want to thank you for sharing Jesse with us. He loved all of you. He lived live every day to the fullest. He was always loving, kind and compassionate. He knew what to do, and never looked back. The sky was not the limit for Jesse,” holding back tears.

Toward the end of the service, Brian Jackson, the Program Director of Air Evac 109 in Manchester, told the crews and first responders, “Thank you for your prayers and your support during this time. It really means a lot. We agree. They were brothers to us. They would want me to tell you, ‘Crawl back on that ambulance. Crawl back on that truck. Crawl back on that airplane. Do what you do best.’”

Later, the Manchester crew pinned the wings on the wreaths of Dobbs, Jones and Sizemore. A framed print in memory of the three crewmen was given to the Air Evac 109 base.

“We’re asking them to be our ‘Guardian Angels.’ In memory of the job they did so well,” said Letch Day of the Air Methods Corporation.

Jackson and the Manchester base crew proudly accepted the print.

Outside, six helicopters and one airplane hovered overhead for five minutes, showing their respect and honor for the three crew members.

Moments earlier inside the gym, the crew’s last call — “November-One-One-Nine Alpha Echo is out of service. God speed and blue skies.” — was heard.

2. Knox County fire kills seven

On what started out as a calm and quiet Saturday morning on March 9, the unthinkable happened in the Gray community of Knox County.

A page from Knox 9-1-1 dispatch was sent out to West Knox Volunteer Fire and Rescue at 9:26 a.m. It was for a structure fire at the corner of Sam Parker Road and Shady Brook Lane.

The first firefighter on-scene was there within two-to-three minutes. Some six-and-a-half minutes later, the first truck to the scene arrived.

Other units and personnel quickly came. They did all they could, and fought gallantly to save lives.

But by afternoon, the worst was confirmed.

Seven people — a man, a woman and five children — perished in the fire that destroyed the wood and brick home on the corner.

Killed in the fire were five family members:

—Jesse Bruce Disney, 27.

—His fiancé, Nina Nicole Asher, 22. She was 11 weeks pregnant at the time of her death.

—And her three children — 3-year-old William Michael Frank Gray Jr., 2-year-old Camden Leigh Gray, and 18-month-old Abigail Danielle Gray.

All five lived in the house that caught fire.

Two sisters who were visiting the Disney family also died:

—Two-year-old Paiten Graci Nevaeh Cox, who would have been three later that month.

—And 2-year-old Briel Nichea Camron Cox, who had recently turned two.

Both girls were staying at the home the night before with Disney, Asher and her children, and were friends of the family.

“I don’t know how to describe the day,” said a visibly shaken Darryl Baker, West Knox’s Chief, later that afternoon.

Along Sam Parker Road, many sobs were heard the next day as friends, neighbors, relatives and family members came to console those who lost loved ones in the blaze.

Many of them knew Disney, his fiancé and her children.

And in another part of the community of Gray, a prayer vigil was held for the Cox sisters. It was held not far from where the little girls lived.

That Monday, the Kentucky Critical Incident Response Team came down from Frankfort and talked to the first responders who were at the fire scene, during a session at the West Knox fire station. The session gave firefighters and others helping out a chance to talk about the feelings and frustrations they went through during that tragic Saturday.

On the Tuesday after the fire, Knox County Coroner Mike Blevins released the preliminary autopsy report to detectives at the Kentucky State Police post in Harlan.

Smoke inhalation was determined to be the cause of death. The report also showed no foul play was involved, and was not suspected according to the state arson detective.

Two separate funeral services for three of the victims were held Wednesday, March 14, at two funeral homes on Master Street in Corbin.

Jesse Disney’s funeral came first that morning at Hart Funeral Home.

“I want you to know that I share so deeply your grief, your sorrow, and so many of your friends and family share it with you,” Pastor David Johnson told Disney’s parents and the rest of the family during the service.

Later, Pastor Kevin Roach said of Disney, “For 27 years, Jesse brought blessings to the people in is life. … Seems like only a week we were happy. today, we’re very very bleak, very sad and very empty. It’s a hard day.”

After the funeral, the hearse carrying Jesse Disney went up Master Street, taking him to his final resting place — the Disney Family Cemetery.

That afternoon, a joint funeral service for Paiten and Briel Cox — affectionately known as “Brat-Brat” and “Itty-Tiny” — was held at Vankirk-Grisell Funeral Home.

Both sisters were side-by-side in an open casket, sharing it with several stuffed animals, including a rabbit and a teddy bear. On the back of the memorial note picked up by those attending was a picture of the sisters on one side, along with a open, “I Thought About You With Love Today.”

Burial for the Cox sisters was the following day, March 15, at Brafford Cemetery in Knox County.

That next day, Saturday, March 16, family and friends said goodbye to Nina Asher and her children.

They filled the Antioch Baptist Church, just over the Knox County line on Ky. 11 to the Antioch Baptist Church in the neighboring Clay County community of Woollum. The church was filled when the funeral began at 2 p.m. on a warm and windy afternoon.

In a deeply moving service featuring several touching spiritual songs, those paying their respects saw several floral displays with two open caskets on each side of the pulpit.

To their left was the casket bearing Nina and Abigail. To their right, the casket bearing Will and Camden.

Both ministers officiating spoke of the sorrow that filled the community after the tragedy.

“I really can’t imagine the grief that’s in your heart today. …When they called me the day of the fire, I went right over there. Talk about really feeling hopeless,” the Rev. David Swafford told the audience.

Added Rev. William “Man” Cobb, “I just don’t know what to say, to make this easier…do not take anything for granted. …Look around and do what God wants us to do.”

After the funeral, two hearses provided by Knox Funeral Home of Barbourville took one casket each and led the procession to the burial site, at the Asher Cemetery in Clay County.

“It’s been a tough moment,” Cobb said before the procession began.

3.  Animal shelter burns down

The community was devastated when the Knox-Whitley Animal Shelter burned down near the end of November. The fire raged for 11 hours and took the lives of 28 cats and the shelter’s canine mascot, Sassy.

The building was completely destroyed, and in December the animal shelter began efforts to rebuild. Thanks to help from the community, other animal shelters and total strangers, the shelter was up and running in a temporary building in December.

December also brought more good news, with a cat found in the rubble of the burned building and rescue organizations coming together to transport the stray and abandoned animals filling up the shelter daily.

Although the shelter is still trying to decide where its permanent location will be, the outpouring of help has ensured that unwanted animals in the area have a place to stay.

4. Hodge guilty

“Guilty.”

That word was uttered 21 times by former Whitley County sheriff Lawrence Hodge during an October  hearing during which Hodge entered into a plea agreement.

Hodge faced a 21-count indictment charging multiple counts of abuse of public trust and tampering with evidence, and was scheduled for a jury trial in October.

However, that trial was cancelled for the hearing in Whitley County Circuit Court.

Hodge emerged from the holding area that day in late October, handcuffed, shackled and chained at the waist.

He joined his attorneys, William G. Crabtree and Jason Williams, and sat at the defense table.

Moments later, Hodge, Crabtree and Williams were asked to stand at the podium, so the plea agreement hearing could begin.

Judge David A. Tapp, of Pulaski County, who was assigned as a special judge in this case earlier this year, started the hearing by reading Hodge’s 21-count indictment against him.

All his charges are considered class C and D felonies, according to Tapp.

Tapp then read the plea agreement — and what sentence was imposed for each count and the dollar amount of restitution for each count.

Tapp then asked Hodge if he agreed with the counts listed on the indictment.

Hodge offered a quiet “yes.”

Tapp reviewed the various parameters of the plea agreement, then asked Hodge to give the court a general description of the activities leading to the charges.

“What were you up to, Mr. Hodge?” Tapp asked.

Trimble explained the first eight counts on the indictment involve a “drug and alcohol” account.

He explained that from 2003-2010, when the account was maintained by the sheriff’s office, there “was a considerable amount of money in it.”

Trimble said that those monies were intended for law enforcement to assist in investigating undercover drug operations — the cash would be used for confidential informants and for cash to make undercover drug buys.

Meanwhile, according to Trimble, the Kentucky state auditor’s office audited the account.

“During this period, checks were written to Mr. Hodge (for) drug buys and CI (confidential informant) fees,” Trimble said. “(But) no cases were presented to the grand jury.”

The next four counts, 9 through 12, according to Trimble, were connected to a fee account for the sheriff’s office from 2005-2008.

Money was listed as missing from that account, according to the Trimble, who also told the court he was prepared to enter into evidence that those missing monies were “misused or used inappropriately” through Hodge’s office.

The next five counts on the indictment involve a search warrant conducted on the residence of Rick Benson — where several firearms were seized.

“Those guns (were) sold to local people all outside and (from) an illegal standpoint,” Trimble said.

The final count on the indictment involves a case where a county constable seized a certain amount of cash and drugs from a suspect, he said. “(That cash and drugs were) not logged into evidence inventory and disappeared,” Trimble said.

Once that general description was offered, Tapp then read the agreement, and asked Hodge count-by-count if he was guilty of the crimes listed.

Based on the plea agreement, Tapp formally sentenced the former sheriff to 17 years to be served concurrently with his federal sentence.

Hodge was sentenced to federal prison for 15 and a half years in September 2011 in U.S. District Court in London on three separate crimes — conspiring to obstruct, delay and affect…commerce…by extortion, using controlled substances without proper prescriptions, and conspiring with a former sheriff’s office employee who did bookkeeping.

He serves his sentence for these federal convictions at the Elkton Federal Prison in Ohio.

Hodge will also remain on probation until his total restitution of $335,188 is paid in full.

After the hearing, neither Crabtree nor Williams wished to offer any statement.

However, Trimble was pleased the saga was over.

“Well, anytime you have a public official caught up in these (type of) matters, it’s a painful process,” he said. “It’s painful to the community…(and) painful all around to everyone.

“I’m thankful this thing’s over (with a) successful conclusion,” he added. “It’s good to have it over and behind us.

“The public will not tolerate people who don’t live up to the standards of conduct (expected from a sitting sheriff),” he added. “Not go to the other side and be part of the problem.”

5. Saint Camillus Academy closes

A Corbin school was set to celebrate its 100th anniversary in September 2013.

Instead, the campus and buildings are closed.

Saint Camillus Academy hoped to open its doors for a new school year Monday, Aug. 5.

But in late July, parents of children attending school there were notified by a letter from the academy’s board of directors that the school would close.

Officials cited declining enrollment and low funding as factors behind the closing of St. Camillus.

The 26-acre property at the end of Roy Kidd Avenue is now in the hands of the Corbin Board of Education. The sale was finalized earlier this month, after the Kentucky Department of Education gave their approval.

What formerly began in 1908 as Sacred Heart School became St. Camillus on Sept. 8, 1913, when the school was established by the Sisters of Divine Providence, a community of sisters based at St. Anne Convent in the northern Kentucky city of Melbourne.

The year started out with the Diocese of Lexington telling school officials they would end their agreement to operate St. Camillus, which they had done for the past two years.

That agreement was between the Diocese and the Sisters, who owned the school buildings and property earlier this year.

In February — while Martin Cothran, a noted teacher, writer and advocate of “classical education” was speaking to St. Camillus parents — the Sisters told parents they would be willing to lease the building for a dollar a year, if the parents can keep the school open for the school year that would start in September.

Sister Carleen, who came down from their convent to attend the meeting, told the audience, “If the parents can make this work, we’re willing to do that. We just can’t put out the money to make it happen. … We would love to see education continued here.”

St. Camillus announced during an open house in April that the school was saved.

A new board of directors was put in, and the Diocese continued to run the school until the end of May, with St. Camillus Academy of Corbin taking over the school’s operation afterward.

The lease agreement between the board and the Sisters was signed the next month, with one-year terms and annual renewal terms available for all buildings, equipment, supplies and other facilities.

But it was not to be.

The letter from officials, announcing the closing of the academy, came in July.

“I think people are very sad about St. Camillus closing, and we are getting ready to celebrate 100 years on the hill. Now it’s gone,” said Dr. Jeanne Martin, a Corbin dentist who got the letter at the time.

On Sept. 1, Sister Mary, who taught at St. Camillus for 22 years, and was best known for starting the Montessori program there in 1992, came back to Corbin.

In a special board meeting nine days later, the Corbin Board of Education approved the purchase of the academy site from the Sisters of Divine Providence for $1 million, to be paid over a five-year period, interest-free. The deal was pending approval from the Kentucky Department of Education.

The property is expected to be the future site of Corbin Middle School.

Later that month, Sister Mary met with personnel from the Corbin Independent Schools, who were there to look at the facilities, and the academy’s inventory of books, equipment, furniture and other resources. It was thought some of the inventory could be used for both the Corbin Preschool Center and Corbin Middle School.

The final chapter of St. Camillus came in the fall of this year.

On Saturday, Nov. 9, the academy had an “educational sale” of the school’s books, equipment and inventory.

The next day, Sunday, Nov. 10, a short but stirring prayer service was held, starting at 2 p.m. At times, there were smiles throughout the campus both days. Many memories were rekindled, and people reunited.

But there were also signs of sorrow from St. Camillus alumni, students, teachers and friends. “It’s a sad day,” were the words quoted quite often that weekend.

After that November weekend, St. Camillus Academy ended its educational and spiritual mission to Corbin and the region.

Also last month, the state Department of Education approved the plans for the Corbin Board of Education to buy the academy property.

On Wednesday, Dec. 18, the Corbin school board closed on the purchase with the Sisters of Divine Providence.

As the keys to the building were being handed over to the Corbin school board members, Sister Frances Moore said, “We are glad the building will continue to serve its purpose, which is educating children.”

Corbin Board Chair Kim Croley added, “Today, we have been blessed by the Sisters of Divine Providence as we exchange the keys to the Saint Camillus property. The Corbin Board of Education will strive to continue the excellence in learning that the sisters established.”

6. Bones found in storage unit

Around 4 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 3, two people who bought the contents of a Corbin storage unit at an auction found something unusual.

Very unusual.

As the two men were going through the contents at Pier Rental and Storage off Cumberland Falls Highway, one found three grocery-style bags containing human bones. A lower jawbone was identified and determined to be a human jawbone.

He alerted the storage company on finding the remains, and the company immediately notified Corbin Police. In addition, Whitley County Coroner Andy Croley was notified.

It was believed the human bones belonged to a Delaware woman who was missing for 16 years.

Doris Anne Wood, of Newark, Dela., was last seen July 28, 1997. At the time, Mrs. Wood was 42 years old, and reported to have left her residence to meet with her sister and never arrived.

Her husband told relatives and friends she abandoned him and his daughter, Jennifer, who was 9 years old at the time. However a longtime friend of Mrs. Wood said she planned to visit her in Kentucky while Jennifer was out of school.

The storage unit in Corbin had been rented by her husband, Robert Wood, who formerly lived in Delaware, but had moved to Corbin by 2002 — about five years after she disappeared.

Corbin Police said Mr. Wood rented the storage unit in 2002.

According to the Associated Press, Corbin was one of several places Mr. Wood lived out his final years. He later moved to Scottsboro, Ala., where he worked at a grocery store until he became sick.

A co-worker in Scottsboro said Mr. Wood lived alone, and seemed to be a nice man. She said his co-workers would give him a ride home because he didn’t have a vehicle.

“You would have never in a million years believed that a dead body was found in his storage building. …We were in complete shock,” the woman, who declined to give out her name, told the AP.

Mr. Wood died on May 4 in a Huntsville, Ala. hospital at the age of 59.

When his wife disappeared in 1997, police in Delaware were contacted by Mr. Wood, according to a spokesperson for the New Castle County Police. Mr. Wood was interviewed by police several times in Delaware, but officials said there was no evidence to say that he was a suspect.

Several years after Mrs. Wood’s disappearance, police in Delaware returned to her husband’s house, but no clues were found after a search of the property.

On the following Monday after the bones were discovered, police in Corbin went to two residences around the Kentucky Street area where Mr. Wood lived around the time his wife went missing. Officers searched the crawl spaces and attics of the residences, but found no further bones or remains.

Meanwhile, the bones and remains were taken after their discovery to the Kentucky Medical Examiner’s Office in Frankfort, where Dr. Emily Craig began her analysis.

Dr. Craig was the state forensic anthropologist within the state Medical Examiner’s Office before she retired in 2010.

Using information made through the National Missing and Unidentified Person System, known as NamUs, Dr. Craig was able to identify the bones and remains as those of Mrs. Wood.

She notified Croley of her findings, and he confirmed them on Tuesday, Oct. 8.

On Oct. 18, the grounds of two homes in the Newark, Dela. area were re-searched by New Castle County police. One was a home where Robert and Doris Wood lived in 1997. Police also re-searched Robert Wood’s childhood home as well.

A volunteer with a rescue dog organization in neighboring Maryland said she and her cadaver dog searched the properties, but did not find any remains.

In late October, Croley mentioned the manner of Mrs. Wood’s death was already ruled a homicide, but would not speculate on the cause of her death until investigations are finished by police in Corbin and in Delaware.

7. Former judge/exec alleged shooter in murder/suicide

In August, a Knox County cemetery was the scene of a suicide that ended a shooting rampage that began in Bell County.

Three people died and a fourth was sent to a Tennessee hospital after the double murder and suicide.

The shooter, according to Kentucky State Police, was former Knox County judge/executive Raymond Curtis Smith, 51, of Evergreen Road in Flat Lick.

KSP Trooper and Public Information Officer Shane Jacobs, with Post 10 in Harlan, said after the shooting that Smith shot a father and two adult siblings at a Laurel Lake Road residence in Pineville.

Two of those shot were discovered dead at the residence — Michael Smith, 50, and his son, Mychael Dustin Smith, 21.

Mychael Smith’s sister, Robin Smith, also 21, was airlifted to the University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville, Tenn.

After shooting those three, Jacobs said Raymond Smith then ended up in Hammonds Fork Cemetery in Flat Lick, where he shot himself.

Raymond Smith was the previous judge/executive for Knox County, and several actions taken by him while in office ultimately led him to a federal prison sentence in 2008.

Current Judge/Executive J.M. Hall defeated Raymond Smith with nearly 61 percent of the votes in November 2006.

The next day, FBI agents with search warrants in hand spent two-and-a-half hours combing through Raymond Smith’s office and took with them three meetings’ worth of 2005 fiscal court minutes, as well as boxes of audio tapes and several other items.

Then in March 2008, Raymond Smith pleaded guilty to one federal charge of mail fraud for submitting false paperwork while in office — purportedly written by a county-hired contractor. Smith presented these falsified documents to cover up the fact that public works projects were not being performed by the companies purportedly represented — they were performed by companies controlled by either Smith himself or his family members.

He was sentenced to 30 months in prison for that crime.

It was never made clear whether the shooting was in any way related to Raymond Smith’s federal conviction; however, Jacobs said after the shooting that the female victim, Robin Smith, had been dating Raymond Smith, but she ended that relationship a month prior to the shootings.

8. Ernie’s Spirits wins license battle

After spending most of the year in a license battle in Frankfort, the third package liquor store allocated to Corbin came out a winner. As a result, Ernie’s Spirits is expected to open next month.

That came as a result of the Kentucky Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control’s (ABC) board unanimously agreeing to award both a retail package liquor license and a retail package beer license to the store, located at 25 RJV Drive, off the Cumberland Falls Highway.

The store hasn’t opened, despite having the building completed last spring. But the attorney for Ernie’s Spirits owner Kevin Durham, Brent Caldwell of Frankfort, said last week he anticipates the store to open in mid-to-late January, after getting the inventory stocked up and employees hired.

The favorable decision ended a long period of legal obstacles for Ernie’s Sprits, LLC.

The store was one of three applicants chosen out of a field of 12 for the city’s three package liquor store licenses that were awarded by the state ABC in July 2012, after voters approved package alcohol sales in Corbin back in February of that year.

The other two stores awarded package liquor licenses were Tri County Liquor of Corbin (now Liquor Mart of Corbin) in the Trademart Shopping Center, and Liquor King on the Cumberland Falls Highway.

Ernie’s Spirits had been issued a package liquor license on April 4 of this year by Tony Dehner, who succeeded Danny Reed as Distilled Spirits Commissioner of the ABC after his term ended.

Dehner also sent a letter explaining there were circumstances why the license was issued, saying the ABC Board considered the leases by Matuse Property Holdings, LLC and Ernie’s Spirits, LLC in May and September 2012 to be “false and fraudulent. However, because the issuance conditions specified in his (Reed’s) Oct. 2, 2012 extended letter of intent were satisfied. For those reasons the law requires me to issue the previously approved LP (Liquor Package) license. … “The issuance of this license does not waive any violations by you relating to the false application statements and fraudulent deeds referenced above. “

He added in the letter that a state statute “provides that a license may be revoked for any false material statement made in the license application. … The Department has initiated an administrative action seeking to revoke your license.”

On that same date of April 4, the ABC Board issued an Administrative Complaint and Order Scheduling Hearing, seeking to revoke Ernie’s Spirits’ alcoholic beverage license.

On April 8, Ernie’s Spirits was refused a retail beer license by state Malt Beverage Administrator Stephanie Stumbo. Court records indicated the refusal was for the same reasons the board sought to revoke the retain package liquor license that has been issued four days earlier to the store.

The Frankfort hearings began on Aug. 2, and continued on Aug. 7 and Sept. 25.

Durham, Reed, and his Assistant Director of Distilled Spirits, Janet L. Williams, were among those who testified at the hearings.

In an email sent to Durham by Williams in May 2012, court records indicated Williams

Court records indicated Durham was sent an email by Williams, she pointed out three problems in the lease, saying “the lease says that the premises were for use as a private residence; it did not list the date the lease commenced; and it automatically renewed on a month-to-month basis.” Williams added the lease didn’t have to be corrected at the time, but that the ABC would require a corrected lease before a license could be issued, if Ernie’s Sprits was selected.

Williams continued as Durham’s main contact with the ABC Board throughout the licensing process until she retired in February, according to court documents.

In the hearings, she testified the ABC Board can accept an application without a lease, but that the board must have a proper lease by the time the ABC grants a final license.

In his testimony, Reed said that “a lease was not important until the find license was granted. Reed stated it was ‘very rare’ for an applicant to have everything in place at the time of the application,” according to court records.

It was noted that Durham updated Williams on the status of Ernie’s Spirits on a regular basis, after getting conditional approval of the license.

Almost two months after the three administrative hearings, Susan Durant with the Administrative Hearings Branch of the state Attorney General’s Office ruled on Nov. 20 that the store’s retail liquor license was properly granted, and should not be revoked.

She also recommended to the ABC Board that Ernie’s Spirits be granted a retail beer license.

The final decision came on Dec. 19, after the state ABC Board — made up of Dehner, Stumbo and ABC Commissioner Frederick Higdon — ruled in favor of awarding the store both a retail package liquor and retail package beer license.

9. Gerald Hyde dies

An era ended in Barbourville in October.

Longtime resident and city council member Gerald L. Hyde, 72, passed away at the University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center in Lexington.

Memorial services were held in early October — but Hyde’s family was not interested in the traditional funeral.

“We had a celebration of life,” said Hyde’s son, Gerry Hyde, of Richmond. “We wanted it (to be) as happy as you can make it.”

And what a life lived.

A native of Praco, Ala., Hyde made his home in the city for decades — and according to his son, “he left this place just a little better than he found it…”

He was formerly a member of the Kentucky National Guard and served in the Barbourville unit.

He was an active member of the Masonic Lodge #187 F&AM.

He was an active Shriner.

He was an active member of the First Christian Church of Barbourville.

He was a former longtime member of the Barbourville City School Board.

He was a member and volunteer with the Barbourville Fire Department.

He was a branch manager and vice president of the former Union National Bank on Main Street — and retired after 38 years of service to the financial institution.

He was also a board member of the Indian Springs Country Club — and drove more than a few golf balls across the course — and was a member of the Traveling Golfers.

During the celebration of life, Hyde’s son explained they had six of his father’s closest friends stand and speak about the life of, and their experience with, the late Gerald Hyde.

“We wanted them to tell stories about him,” Gerry Hyde said.

And the common theme, according to his son, was his father’s sense of humor.

“He had a gift of telling a joke,” his son said. “Dad could take the worst joke and make it funny because of his impeccable timing with it.”

Gerry Hyde said he would miss his father.

“I lost my best friend,” he said. “I could tell him anything — we could do anything.”

Gerry Hyde and his sister, Sharon “Cher” Hyde, were the products of a love that bloomed in high school, according to Gerry Hyde.

“(My parents) were in the same class in Barbourville High School,” Gerry Hyde said. “They were high school sweethearts.”

The late Gerald Hyde and his wife, Janet Hawn Hyde, celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary Feb. 10, 2013 — the two wed in 1963.

Gerald Hyde was a council member for many years — in fact, according to Thompson, Hyde became a council member when Thompson’s father was mayor.

Hopper Funeral Home in Barbourville handled arrangements, and Hyde was buried in Barbourville Cemetery.

His wife, Janet Hyde, was officially sworn in as the city’s newest council member in November.

10. W’burg football programs come oh, so close

Two football teams hailing from Williamsburg came oh, so close to winning it all for their respective programs this year.

The Williamsburg Yellow Jackets advanced to the Class 1A State Championship Game before falling to Mayfield, 42-0, on Dec. 6.

And the University of the Cumberlands Patriots advanced to the NAIA national title game Dec. 21, but came up short against Grand View, Iowa., 35-23.

Williamsburg’s hopes of the school’s first-ever state title were washed away as the Mayfield Cardinals scored early and often on Western Kentucky’s Feix Field.

After possessing the football for a total of 22 seconds, Mayfield had scored three touchdowns and never looked back.

Williamsburg head coach Jerry Herron said his team most likely let the size of the moment get to them, but was quick to point out the loss couldn’t diminish what the Yellow Jackets accomplished during the season.

Those accomplishments included a Class 1A, Region 3 championship which they earned by defeating Hazard, who knocked them out of the playoffs just one year earlier.

And the chances are great Williamsburg will be able to make another run as Herron returns 20 of his 22 starters next season.

The University of the Cumberlands had an impressive season, as well, leading up to their title match.

The Patriots rewrote school history by earning a No. 1 ranking and a 12-0 record on their way to the championship game played in Rome, Ga.

Cumberlands won a thrilling 34-27 overtime game against Carroll College in the semifinals as they earned the school’s first-ever trip to the NAIA National Championship game.

Cumberlands played Grand View closely for most of that championship game but shot themselves in the foot in the second half by not being able to punch the ball in from the one-yard line in one possession, and by muffing the ball a couple of times late.

“We’re extremely disappointed, but the players fought hard and I’m proud of the season we had,” former coach John Bland said following the game.

Bland has since stepped down as the head football coach at Cumberlands as he accepted the same position with Mississippi College.

The Associated Press contributed to this story

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