Police: Woman falsely claimed COVID-19 to prevent arrest
A woman accused of shoplifting from the Whitesburg Walmart falsely claimed she was sick and waiting for the results of a COVID-19 test as a way to avoid arrest, Whitesburg Police Chief Tyrone Fields said.
Fields said store employees detained Lily Blackburn March 31 for shoplifting and called police. When Officer Jordan Clemons arrived, the employees told him that Blackburn had told them she had been running a high fever and was being tested for COVID-19.
Fields said Clemons made contact with Blackburn “from a distance,” as he was trained to do, and had her leave the store after gathering her information. Fields also said several Walmart employees had closer contact with the suspect.
Fields said that with the help of Commonwealth’s Attorney Edison Banks, police obtained a subpoena to verify Blackburn’s information, and learned she had not seen the doctor she claimed she had in several years. That evening, Fields went to Blackburn’s residence and, “after several false statements, Blackburn finally told the chief that in fact she had never been tested for COVID-19, but that she did not want to go to jail and used those statements for a ‘get out of jail free card.”’
Fields said charges will be sought against Blackburn for her actions. He said she wasn’t arrested immediately because the department was following protocol during the pandemic.
“Anyone else that chooses to use this as a false statement, you will land here and in jail,” Fields wrote on the department’s Facebook page.
Judge, mayor limit shoppers to one per family
Letcher County Judge/ Executive Terry Adams and Whitesburg Mayor James W. Craft each issued an executive April 1 limiting the number of shoppers in any store in the county to one per family.
The move comes a day after Hazard’s mayor issued a similar order. The executive orders are meant to reduce the exposure of children and others to coronavirus during the pandemic. The orders will remain in force until the governor’s state of emergency order expires.
Families that cannot get childcare and must take their children are ordered to restrain them in the shopping buggy while inside the store.
Kentucky Power warns of scam calls during pandemic
Kentucky Power Company is warning residents to beware of scam callers who are threatening to turn off people’s electricity if they do not pay immediately. The company issued the warning on its bill-pay web site.
Letcher County Sheriff Mickey Stines said he was unaware of any complaints here.
Kentucky Power said thieves are calling and threatening an immediate cut-off unless the customer buys a pre-paid debit card and sends it to the caller.
“Kentucky Power never asks for pre-paid debit cards for payment. Please use our authorized payment methods, and call us at 800-572-1113 if you have questions or concerns,” the company says in a notice on its web page.
Food Pantry will reopen this week
The Letcher County Food Pantry will reopen today (Wednesday) and distribute food outdoors.
Pantry Director Vicki Holbrook had announced April 1 that the food bank would close until the first Wednesday in May after it became apparent that it was impossible to keep clients and staff separated during the virus outbreak in the small house where the food bank is located Madison Street in Whitesburg.
All of the volunteers are either retired or provided by the court system as part of community service requirements. The older people are not available because of the risk of being in public, and the court system has stopped providing workers because of the pandemic.
The pantry served more than 400 families and more than 800 individuals last month.
“People who are newly laid off and don’t get food stamps, and the elderly — those are my biggest worry,” Holbrook said.
However, Food Pantry organizers on April 3 set up a new distribution plan to alleviate those concerns. Beginning today, the Food Pantry will park a loaded truck with the tailgate toward the First Baptist Church parking lot. Food Pantry clients will drive into the parking lot and pull their cars up to the truck one at a time.
“They don’t come into the pantry at all. We’re going to hand them out,” Holbrook said. “They get out of the car one person at a time, they get the bag and put it in their car.”
People who have already qualified can drop their card in a box and get their food. New clients will fill out their information on a slip of paper and put it in the box.
Holbrook said all families will get the same size package of food next week so the boxes and bags can be packed in advance.
Distribution will be on the regular days, Wednesday to Friday, from noon to 3 p.m.
Sheriff ’s office closing lobby to public
The lobby of the Letcher County Sheriff ’s Office is closed to the public due to COVID-19.
Taxes can be paid in the following ways:
• Online –www.letchercounysheriff.com
• Phone payment – 606-633-2293 or 606-633-2294 between the hours of 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m.
• Mail payments to –
Letcher County Sheriff ’s Office
6 Broadway Street
Whitesburg, Ky. 41858
The deadline to pay property tax has been extended to May 15.
Anyone who needs assistance can call the sheriff’s office between 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday to Friday, at 633-2293.
After 4 p.m., residents should call 911 for emergencies. For non-emergencies, call 606-435-6069.
Both numbers will ring at the Kentucky State Police Post in Hazard. It will dispatch to the nearest officer.ky.gov.