Couple indicted on wanton endangerment charges
By: Greg Bird 7/3/14
The couple charged with leaving a small child inside a hot car was indicted on a count of Wanton Endangerment First Degree by the McCreary County Grand Jury last week.
Trooper Willie Cowan and McCreary County Sheriff’s Deputy Joe Horne responded to the scene with paramedics and found Taylor, 30, in a car with an unresponsive 11-month old child in the back seat of the hot vehicle.
The original police report stated the child was extremely warm to the touch, with a full diaper and showing signs of dehydration. The child also had very low blood pressure and a body temperature of at least 103.4 degrees.
The infant was transported to Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital for treatment and was turned over to Child Protective Services for emergency custody.
Trooper Cowan interviewed Taylor, who admitted to using Suboxone and failed a field sobriety test, and was also indicted on one count of Operating a Motor Vehicle Under the Influence. He also faces Persistent Felony Offender charges stemming from a 2010 conviction of Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument.
The mother of the child, Ogle, 25 was also arrested at the time and charged with Public Intoxication, but was not indicted on the charge.
In other indictments, Ashley Lyons Cooper, of Whitley City was indicted on one count of Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument Second Degree for allegedly knowingly possessing a check with a forged signature in the amount of $175 on June 17. Cooper was also indicted on a count of being a Persistent Felony Offender following a 2012 conviction of Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument Second Degree.
Brittany Schwartz, of Pine Knot, was indicted on a county of Theft by Unlawful Taking for allegedly taking a 9 mm handgun belonging to Norman Lawson on April 14. Schwartz also was charged with Possession of a Handgun by a Convicted Felon after a previous conviction of Receiving Stolen Property in 2011.
Bobby Kidd, of Whitley City, was indicted for Theft by Unlawful Taking, Criminal Mischief Second Degree, Theft of a Debit Card and Misuse of Electronic Information for reportedly taking various items belonging to Krystan Spradlin on May 19, including a debit card which he used to try and withdraw money from an ATM machine and damaging Spradlin’s car window.
He was also charged with Possession of a Controlled Substance Third Degree for allegedly knowingly possessing two Alprazolam tablets, as well as being a Persistent Felony Offender for a 2012 conviction of Promoting Contraband First Degree.
Dustin Shawn Ross, of Strunk, was charged with Burglary Third Degree and Theft by Unlawful Taking for reportedly entering a barn owned by Johnny Cox on November 20, 2013 and taking several tools. He is also facing Persistent Felony Offender charges following convictions of Receiving Stolen Property in 2011, Escape Second Degree in 2008, as well as Bail Jumping First Degree and Theft by Unlawful Taking in 2007.
The McCreary County Grand Jury also met last month to review the county primary election held in May.
The jurors reviewed reports from precinct officers, the Election Commission and County Clerk Eric Haynes and found no evidence of wrongdoing, abuse or information warranting further investigation in the election.
The Voice would like to remind our readers that an indictment is not an indication of one’s guilt or innocence, but represents that enough evidence exists in a case to pursue the matter in a court of law.
Saving Our Mussels
By: Eugenia Jones 7/3/14
The freshwater mussels are dying.
McCreary County, once a prime location for freshwater mussels, has not been exempt from the mystifying decline in mussels. A survey, conducted from 1987 through 1999 by scientists Cicerello and Laudermilk, of the Cumberland River Basin upstream of Cumberland Falls included McCreary County’s Marsh Creek watershed. The results led the scientists to conclude “the Marsh Creek fauna is the richest and most abundant tributary upstream from the falls, and should be the focus of mussel conservation efforts in the (upper Cumberland) basin.”
However in 2011, a second survey, conducted by the Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission (KSNPC), examined eleven of the twenty-three cites surveyed earlier and found mussel populations in Marsh Creek had drastically declined.
Since Marsh Creek is designated by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) as a critical habitat for the federally endangered Cumberland elktoe mussel and by the Commonwealth of Kentucky as an Outstanding State Resource Water, a multi-agency effort was established to determine the current ecological conditions of the Marsh Creek watershed and potential causes for the reduction in mussels. Now, two years into the implementation of the study, scientists are hopeful their work will lead to answers that will help halt and reverse the decline in freshwater mussels. As part of the effort, selected sites throughout the Marsh Creek watershed have been regularly monitored for water quality and sediment. Mussel silos, containing live mussels, have been placed at selected sites allowing researchers to monitor the health and survival of mussels.
The most recent mussels (freshwater clams) placed in the area will be removed later this year. According to Sue Bruenderman, Kentucky Department of Environmental Protection/ Division of Water Aquatic Biologist, if enough of these mussels survive, researchers will be able to run the most extensive list of tests since the project began in 2012. Preliminary results will be available by spring 2015. The tests will reveal the amounts of metals, pesticides, herbicides and other substances that have run off the landscape and into the mussels’ habitat in Marsh Creek. The value of the results, to human residents as well as all of the aquatic species in the area, is significant.
The results of the study will hopefully determine if the decline in mussels in the Marsh Creek watershed is the result of one detrimental event or an ongoing problem associated with multiple factors. If a chronic problem is discovered, researchers will be able to determine if the problem can be corrected and if the successful reintroduction of mussels in the area is possible.
Mussels, also known as mollusks or fresh water clams, have soft bodies covered by hinged shells. Using a muscular foot, a mussel buries firmly into gravel, sand, or mud at the bottom of rivers, lakes, and streams. Bruenderman explained the long-lived mussels can tell us more about the health of Marsh Creek than any other method available. Since they move very little or not at all, mussels feed and breath by siphoning water that continuously rushes past them, capturing everything in the water, good and bad, throughout their lives. They clean the water and store toxins in their soft parts. While they can close their shells to avoid a very short release of pollution moving downstream, they cannot protect themselves against long-term problems. The heavy metals that leach into the waters of Marsh Creek from abandoned or poorly reclaimed mines and stay stored in the river sediment for years are prime examples of unavoidable problems for the mussels. In the late 1980s, a single, harmful event which greatly affected the mussel population was an unreported oil spill that killed at least 500 mussels in Marsh Creek. Approximately twenty-five years later, creek sediment analyses conducted in 2013 showed that there were still high levels of oil and grease in the river bottom at this location. Because test chambers in this area were vandalized, tissue analyses at these sights in upper Marsh Creek were impossible. Although not confirmed, it is suspected that the upstream area of Marsh Creek remains problematic for aquatic animals and provides poor water quality for humans. Other problems affecting upper Marsh Creek include poorly managed stream banks due to poor land clearing practices in general. Water quality improves in the lower creek areas, particularly in parts of the Daniel Boone National Forest.
The benefits of improving water quality so that freshwater mussels can be reintroduced and survive in their native habitats are twofold, aiding human beings as well as all other aquatic species. Based on research conducted thus far, researchers feel there may be some tributaries and sections of lower Marsh Creek where water quality is still good enough to support the survival of mussels. These areas may provide a safe haven to local mussels and give scientists more time to determine the causes and sources contributing to the decline of the species.
Upon completion of their research, scientists are hopeful that a plan to improve the water quality of Marsh Creek and to ensure the survival of mussels in the creek’s waters will be forthcoming.
“Sometimes, a plan for remediation can be a lengthy and costly process, but often it’s simply a matter of education,” commented Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Aquatic Research Scientist, Monte McGregor. “The plan may just be a matter of teaching people to do things differently than in the past. The important thing to remember is that poor water quality for sensitive creatures like mussels equals poor water quality for human beings. People are eventually affected by the water. By preserving and improving the quality of water for aquatic species, we are, in the long run, helping ourselves as human beings.”
Bruenderman echoed the sentiments of McGregor.
“Remediation can be tough,” Bruenderman emphasized. “However, Marsh Creek still has many areas where populations of rare fish species and bugs are doing very well. If it turns out there are just a few hot spots in the basin that are contributing most of the damage to the creek, and there are solutions for those problems, we have a chance.”
Bruenderman expressed her surprise that at least some of the mussels in the Marsh Creek study sites were still alive after almost an entire year. It was encouraging to gain information from the mussels as well as an abundance of water quality data.
“Mussels are the best biological monitoring organisms out there,” Bruenderman reiterated. “Mussels do so much for us, cleaning our water, providing food, habitat and shelter for other aquatic and land animals like muskrats, raccoons, turtles, and aquatic insects. They provide shelter for fishes-I have seen many small catfish using old shells in which to hide and lay eggs. They provide “ecosystem services,” and ecologists discover more and more services they do for us with each study performed. I feel we owe the mussels a huge favor.”
For the benefit of humans as well as the aquatic species of the area, residents living in the Marsh Creek Watershed are urged to contact the Kentucky Division of Water’s, London Office at 606-330-2080 if they witness, suspect, or are aware of any environmental problem in the Marsh Creek Basin. The help of the public is needed and greatly appreciated.
The writer acknowledges the following sources:
Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission Scientific & Technical Series Number 7: A Guide to the Freshwater Mussels of Kentucky, Cicerello & Schuster
Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife (http://fw.ky.gov)
Kentucky Division of Water
U.S. Forest Service, Stearns Ranger District