FRANKFORT — The Kentucky Public Service Commission recently approved a settlement agreement that granted a rate increase to Kentucky Power Company.

The agreement allows the company, which serves customers throughout eastern Kentucky, the ability to increase its revenue by $45.4 million, or 65 percent of the amount the company sought in its application.

The PSC modified the agreement to, among other things, shift a portion of the rate increase for residential customers from the monthly customer charge to the charge for electricity consumption.

The settlement and order also addresses other issues, including an emended environmental compliance plan that sets forth the terms for recovery of costs associated with the shutdown of one of Kentucky Power’s coal-burning unit at the Big Sandy Power Plant in Lawrence County and the conversion of another coal-burning unit to natural gas.

The order outlines a 15-cent customer monthly charge to help Kentucky Power generate $300,000 annually to support economic develop in the company’s service territory.

The agreement may be found under case number 2014-00396 at

PIKEVILLE — The traffic signals at Don Combs Bridge and Bypass Road in Pikeville came down yesterday as workers from GSI moved north on the KY 1426 rockfall mitigation project.

The traffic pattern changed again, with barriers at the end of the bridge, making the businesses along this stretch of the road accessible from the Chloe Creek end of the project.

Barricades and variable message boards advise motorists that they can get to Dorsie’s Dairy Bar, Reynolds’ Produce, Pikeville Medical Equipment, Remember Me, and other properties along this stretch of KY 1426 by going through the traffic signal at the mouth of Chloe near the Pikeville Fire Department.

“The work is progressing nicely,” said Sara George, Highway District 12’s Information Officer. “The contractor has 200 working days to complete the job, which would be around the first part of February. With the weather cooperating, it appears that the work is a little ahead of schedule. In fact, the crew plans to shut down around Independence Day for about a week’s vacation.

The road will remain closed, however, because of the equipment that will be parked in the work zone.”

The heavy equipment and trucks in the work zone may give the appearance that the road is blocked, George said, but if motorists come through the light at Chloe they can get to any business in the area. “It may look congested and confusing,” she said, “but the contractor has planned quite well and works hard every day to keep places accessible and traffic moving safely.”

Medical Leader | Photo courtesy of KATHLEEN SCARLETT
HONORED: Pikeville Medical Center Chaplain Sam Crawford reads from the Bible during a ceremony honoring two Pike County Civil War soldiers.

ISLAND CREEK . The Col. Ben E. Caudill Camp #1629, Sons of Confederate Veterans, members of the Pikeville Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution and local residents honored two Civil War Veterans recently.
A group of approximately 50 individuals participated in a ceremony hosted by the Col. Ben E. Caudill Camp to place new headstones at the graves of Riley Sweeney (1835-1913) and James Wesley Akers (1828-1911) at the Akers Cemetery on Island Creek.
Akers was a Confederate soldier during the Civil War, serving in Co. G 5th Ky. Infantry.
Sweeny, who married into the Akers family, captured and transported to Camp Chase, Ohio, during his military service in the Civil War.

Medical Leader | STAFF PHOTOS
CONGRATULATIONS: Kentucky Hospital Association President/CEO Michael T. Rust, left, congratulates Pikeville Medical Center President/CEO Walter E. May after presenting him with a certificate from the Kentucky Cabinet of Health and Family Services’ Department of Public Health designating the hospital as a Level II Trauma Center.  The hospital also received Level II Trauma verification from the American College of Surgeons.

TRAUMA SPECIALISTS: Pikeville Medical Trauma Services Nurse Practitioner Scott Suttles; Trauma Surgeon and Co-Medical Director of the PMC Surgical Intensive Care Unit Dr. Aaron Brown; PMC Trauma Surgeon and Medical Director of Trauma Services Dr. William Peery; and Trauma Services Nurse Practitioner Kenny Hawkins present the Level II trauma designation from the Kentucky Cabinet of Health and Family Services’ Department of Public Health.

GRAND OPENING: Approximately 300 people from throughout the region attended the grand opening celebration for the Pikeville Medical Center Trauma Center on June 23. Dick Bartlett, secretary and trauma coordinator for the  Kentucky Trauma Advisory Committee and the emergency preparedness and trauma coordinator for the Kentucky Hospital Association, commends the hospital for obtaining verification from the American College of Surgeons. PMC Chief Operating Officer Juanita Deskins honored employees and physicians who made the verification possible.

PIKEVILLE – The trauma services at Pikeville Medical Center have been verified as a Level II Trauma Center by the American College of Surgeons (ACS), a scientific and educational association that improves the quality of care for surgical patients. It is now the only ACS-verified Level II Trauma Center in Kentucky.

The announcement was made during a Grand Opening Celebration for Trauma Services on June 23 at Pikeville Medical Center (PMC).

As a verified Trauma Center, PMC is equipped and staffed to provide comprehensive emergency care to patients suffering traumatic injuries caused by vehicle crashes, gunshots, assaults, falls or other incidents. The spectrum of care encompasses the pre-hospital phase through the rehabilitation process.

Regulations require that trauma victims be transported to the closest trauma center, either by ground or air ambulance. With the verification, PMC’s Trauma Center is now serving a population of more than 400,000 people; increasing their chances of survival should they be injured.

“Studies have proven that patients suffering from severe traumatic injuries have a higher chance for survival and decreased rates of complications if they are treated in hospitals specializing in trauma care,” said PMC Chief Nursing Officer and Assistant Chief Operating Officer Debra Parsons. “The term ‘golden hour’ refers to the time period from being injured until the time the patient receives definitive trauma care. Patients have better outcomes if they are treated within this 60-minute period.”

Prior to PMC offering trauma services, many patients had to be transferred to facilities two hours away. Valuable time in the treatment process was lost.

“Our Trauma Center verification makes trauma victims safer by allowing them to be treated at our hospital instead of being transported to medical facilities further away,” said PMC President and CEO Walter E. May. “I have always been a firm believer that where you live should not determine if you live.”

PMC received its Trauma Center verification by meeting specific criteria established by the ACS and passing an intensive site review by the ACS Verification Review Committee. PMC’s review showed no deficiencies. 

“Becoming the only verified Level II Trauma Center in Kentucky and completing the ACS review with no deficiencies really shows the level of preparation and dedication that we put into the process,” said William Peery II, MD, trauma surgeon and medical director of Trauma Services at PMC.

Kentucky Hospital Association (KHA) President/CEO Michael T. Rust presented May with PMC’s state trauma designation certificate during the June 23 event.

“There were 11 trauma centers in this state yesterday,” said Rust. “Today, there are 12 trauma centers and only one Level II trauma center.”

Dick Bartlett, KHA emergency preparedness and trauma coordinator and secretary and trauma coordinator for the Kentucky Trauma Advisory Committee, reported that rural residents experience death due to trauma at a three- or four-times greater rate than those in urban settings.

Dr. Peery added, “Trauma is the number one killer of Americans age one to 46 and, in eastern Kentucky, the mortality rate due to trauma is twice the national average. This is why we’re going to make a difference. We’re going to bring that number down.”

Aaron Brown, MD, trauma surgeon and co-medical director of the Surgical Intensive Care Unit at PMC, stated, “This area has been in need of a trauma center for many years. PMC’s comprehensive trauma team stands ready to provide quality care to trauma victims.”

PMC’s trauma team is comprised of physicians specializing in trauma surgery, emergency medicine, general surgery, neurosurgery, orthopedic trauma surgery, orthopedic surgery, vascular surgery, hand surgery, plastic surgery, oral/maxillofacial surgery, anesthesiology, interventional radiology, radiology, physical medicine and rehabilitation, urology, podiatry and pulmonology/critical care as well as mid-level healthcare providers, a trauma program manager, and nursing, respiratory, laboratory, radiology and case management staff.

May and PMC Chief Operating Officer Juanita Deskins recognized the staff, physicians and Board of Directors who made the trauma verification possible.

“Thank you all so much for all of your hard work,” Deskins said.

May said, “This would not have been possible without you.”

FRANKFORT – Most new laws approved during the Kentucky General Assembly’s 2015 regular session go into effect this week.

The state constitution specifies that new laws take effect 90 days after the adjournment of the legislature. The General Assembly’s 2015 session adjourned on March 25, making June 24 the day the new laws went into effect.

There are some exceptions. Bills that contained an emergency clause, such as this year’s measure to fight heroin abuse, went into effect immediately upon being signed by the governor. A handful of bills also specified their own effective dates, such as a measure that goes into effect early next year to offer some civil protections to victims of dating violence.

But most new laws – 98 of the 117 passed this year – went into effect on June 24. Laws that take effect then include measures on:

•Beer distribution: House Bill 168 states that beer brewing companies can’t own beer distributorships. The measure is meant to affirm that beer is not exempt from the state’s three-tier system of regulating – and keeping separate – alcoholic beverage producers, distributors and retailers.

•Charitable gaming:  Senate Bill 33 will allow electronic versions of pull-tab Bingo tickets at charitable Bingo halls.

•Child abuse: SB 102 will allow a death caused by intentional abuse to be considered first-degree manslaughter.

•Child booster seats: HB 315 will require booster seats to be used in motor vehicles by children who are less than eight years old and are between 40 and 57 inches in height.

•Crowdfunding: HB 76 will help Kentucky entrepreneurs to gain investors through crowdfunding. The bill will allow people to invest up to $10,000 through a crowdfunding platform while helping businesses raise up to $2 million.

•Drug abuse: HB 24 will prevent youth from misusing certain cough medicines to get high -- sometimes called “robotripping” – by restricting access to medicines that contain dextromethorphan. The bill will prevent sales of dextromethorphan-based products, such as Robitussin-DM or Nyquil, to minors.

•Drunk driving: SB 133 will expand the use of ignition interlocks for people caught driving under the influence of alcohol. An ignition interlock is a device about the size of a mobile phone that is wired into the ignition system of a vehicle. A person convicted of driving under the influence must blow into the device in order to start their vehicle. If they have a measurable amount of alcohol in their system, the vehicle will not start.

•Early childhood development: HB 234 will require early child care and education programs to follow a state quality-based rating system.

•Emergency responders: SB 161 will authorize the governor to order that U.S. flags be lowered to half-staff on state buildings if a Kentucky emergency responder dies in the line of duty.

•End-of-life care: SB 77 will allow Kentuckians to use a health care directive known as a “medical order for scope of treatment.” These orders spell out patients’ wishes for end-of-life care. Unlike advance directives, the orders are considered to be physician’s orders and are signed by both the patient or patient’s legal surrogate, and the patient’s physician.

Hunters: SB 55 will ensure that game meat can be donated to not-for-profit organizations to feed hungry people as long as the meat was properly field dressed and processed and is considered disease-free and unspoiled.

•Kentucky Employees Retirement: System. HB 62 will make sure the agencies that want to leave the Kentucky Employees Retirement System pay their part of the system’s unfunded liability.

•Newborn health screening: SB 75 will require newborn health screenings to include checks for Krabbe Disease, an inherited disorder that affects the nervous system.

•Retirement systems: HB 47 will add the Legislators’ Retirement Plan, the Judicial Retirement Plan, and the Kentucky Teachers’ Retirement System to the Public Pension Oversight Board’s review responsibilities.

•Spina bifida:  SB 159 will require health care providers to give information about spina bifida and treatment options to parents whose unborn children have been diagnosed with the disorder.

•Stroke care: SB 10 will improve care for stroke victims by requiring the state to make sure local emergency services have access to a list of all acute stroke-ready hospitals, comprehensive stroke centers, and primary stroke centers in Kentucky. Emergency medical services directors would be required to create protocols for assessment and treatment of stroke victims.

•Tax check-offs:  SB 82 will place check-off boxes on tax forms to give people getting state income tax refund the option of donating a portion of their refund to support child cancer research, the Special Olympics or rape crisis centers.

•Telephone deregulation: HB 152 is aimed at modernizing telecommunications and allowing more investment in modern technologies by ending phone companies’ obligations to provide landline phone services to customers in urban and suburban areas if they provide service through another technology, such as a wireless or Internet-based phone service. While rural customers can keep landline phones they already have, newly constructed homes in rural areas won’t be guaranteed landline services.

Pikeville Medical Center (PMC) encourages everyone to understand heat safety and how it effects your health.

High temperatures kill hundreds of people every year.

Extreme heat caused 7,415 heat-related deaths in the United States from 1999 to 2010.  Heat-related deaths and illness are preventable, yet annually many people succumb to extreme heat.

The main things affecting the body’s ability to cool itself during extremely hot weather are high humidity, age, obesity, fever, dehydration, heart disease, mental illness, poor circulation, sunburn, and prescription drug and alcohol use.

“Heat exhaustion and heat cramps can occur in anyone, at any age,” said PMC Family Practice Resident Makayla Kiser, DO. “Muscle cramps are usually one of the first signs of heat related illness. If you or someone else begins experiencing muscle cramps, fatigue, excessive sweating, headache, nausea, weakness and dizziness, move to a cool environment, preferably indoors.  Once in a cooler location, remove clothing and spray with cool water or place wet cloths/towels on them.  Also, if they are conscious, instruct them to take sips of water to rehydrate.  If at any time the person experiences confusion, vomiting, or unconsciousness, contact 911 immediately.”

Those who are at highest risk include people 65 and older, children younger than two, and people with chronic diseases or mental illness.  

Closely monitor people who depend on you for their care.  Are they drinking enough water, do they have access to air conditioning and do they need help keeping cool?

Dr. Kiser said, “Although beautiful summer weather is very enjoyable, you must keep in mind that too much of a good thing is sometimes bad.”

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

DORTON — State and local leaders joined community residents in a ceremony honoring musician Marlow Tackett on June 23.

Tackett, a Pike County musician and founder of an annual Christmas giveaway that helped thousands of eastern Kentucky families for decades, is now honored alongside other musicians on the Country Music Highway.

The ceremony, held in Tackett’s native community of Dorton in Pike County, featured Sen. Ray S. Jones, Rep. Leslie Combs, former Pike County Judge-Executive Wayne T. Rutherford, Highway District 12 Chief District Engineer Mary Westfall-Holbrook and Tackett’s family members as speakers.

Attendees released balloons in Tackett’s honor after the presentation.

Sen. Ray S. Jones spearheaded a resolution in the Kentucky General Assembly this year to add the late entertainer’s name to the group of country musicians who are honored with their names on U.S. 23. The request was completed by the Kentucky Highway Department’s District 12 Office in Pikeville.

“Marlow was a soft-spoken, humble man,” Highway District 12 Information Officer Sara George said in a press release. “He would be touched that Senator Jones and the legislators from the mountains thought so much of him that they would add his name to the Country Music Highway. For many who knew him, attending this ceremony might be the last thing they can do to show their affection for him, so we want everyone to know they are invited.”

Tackett, known affectionately in eastern Kentucky as the “Mountain Santa Claus,” died May 10, 2014, after battling cancer for approximately one year.

His country music career spanned nearly 40 years

The 70-year-old lived in Elizabethton, Tennessee, but regularly traveled to eastern Kentucky, where he hosted his “Christmas for the Needy” event for 35 years.

He started the program in 1975.

Tackett is buried in the Tackett Cemetery in Dorton.

PRESTONSBURG — Prestonsburg Mayor Les Stapleton, Jenny Wiley Theatre Executive Director Martin Childers and Jenny Wiley State Resort Park Manager Julian Slone all have one thing in common — they want the public to know Jenny Wiley Theatre is still open and active in Prestonsburg. 

The theatre has been entertaining and enriching the community for 50 years, and the amphitheatre is still open at the park, in addition JWT’s new location in Pikeville.

This summer, JWT will offer family-friendly entertainment in Prestonsburg including performances of Shrek: The Musical, which opened June 11, Little Shop of Horrors, which opens July 2 and East Kentucky Dance Under the Stars, which was held on June 15-16.

“We’re still here,” says Childers. “We keep hearing from folks that say they didn’t know we were still open in the park. But we have not, nor do we intend, to ever leave the amphitheatre in Prestonsburg. . . .We can’t imagine east Kentucky without Jenny Wiley Theatre and the best way to support us is to see a show and speak positively about our efforts.”

Stapleton said JWT boosts the city’s economy.

“A lot of tourists come in to see the show at the theatre and once we get them into town we try to get them into other things like mountain biking, hiking, and downtown shopping.  We try to build on it,” he said.

Slone said JWT creates a “huge draw” for tourists. 

JWT is now in its 51st season. For details or tickets, visit or call 877-CALL-JWT.

Medical Leader | Photos by MARY MEADOWS
TUG VALLEY RELAY FOR LIFE: Hundreds of people raised funds for the American Cancer Society during the Tug Valley Relay for Life in Williamson, W.Va. on June 19. More pictures are available on the Medical Leader Facebook page.

Local residents turned out in droves this month to help the American Cancer Society “Celebrate, Remember and Fight Back” against cancer during Relay for Life events held throughout eastern Kentucky and southern West Virginia.

In that effort, individuals, organizations and businesses in this region have made a significant impact in the fight against cancer.

Josh Johnson, the eastern Kentucky regional representative for the American Cancer Society, reported that Relay for Life events in Pike, Floyd and Letcher counties collectively raised a whopping $151,000 for the nonprofit organization this month.

But that’s only part of what eastern Kentucky has given to help the ACS over the past five years.

Johnson reported that since 2010, Relay for Life events in Floyd, Letcher and Pike counties have  provided more than $1.6 million to the ACS.

In those years, Pike County has contributed $712,000, Floyd County has contributed $301,000 and Letcher County has contributed $301,000 to Relay for Life, he said.

Fundraising teams located across the river have also contributed a significant impact.

Shelli May, southern West Virginia representative for the ACS, reported that the Tug Valley Relay for Life, held last week in Williamson, raised approximately $25,000, and more funds are expected to be donated in the coming weeks.

Over the past five years, May reported, the Tug Valley Relay for Life has provided more than $170,000 to help the ACS in its fight against cancer.

Hundreds of people representing cancer patients and their families, as well as businesses and organizations in these communities, have practically worked year-round to host Relay for Life fundraisers. They will continue the fundraising effort through August to bring in more funds. In Tug Valley, a “Bark for Life” dog show fundraiser is being planned and new committee members are being recruited.

“Over the past few years, Relay has just unbelievably grown,” May said. “In my first year with Tug Valley in 2010, we had seven teams. This year, we had 23 registered teams.”

Perhaps that’s because cancer is one of the leading causes of death in both Kentucky and West Virginia. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the ACS rank both states among those with the highest incidences of cancer and the highest rates of death caused by all cancers.

According to a 2015 “Fact & Figures” report from the ACS, cancer rates vary in the geographic regions of the U.S. The report showed that cancer rates are “more than 3-fold higher in Kentucky” than other states.

That report shows there were 10,130 cancer deaths in Kentucky and 4,680 cancer deaths in West Virginia in 2014. 

To learn more, visit or visit local Relay for Life groups on Facebook.

When watching the news, we are sometimes overwhelmed at what is presented. 

I find that most news regarding Christianity is negative.

If a pastor or an entire church stumbles, it portrays Christianity as a whole as something less than desirable. The vast majority of good Christians do go unnoticed.   

Many Christians take  time to mend a neighbor’s roof, fix their car or help collect funds to pay overdue bills. They forsake their own needs to help others less fortunate for God’s glory.

So when you see on the news a pastor or another Christian stumble, pray for them. 

Jesus said, “Judge not and ye shall not be judged: Condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: Forgive, and ye shall be forgiven.”  (Saint Luke 6:37)   

PMC Chaplain Stephen Thacker, Th.D. may be reached at 606-218-3969.