New and returning business brought a little economic stability to the area this year, bringing more jobs and commerce to Bell County.
After more than 15 years, Roses returned to Middlesboro, opening its doors in the Middlesboro Mall in November. The store returned just in time for Christmas and was full of customers even before its official opening.
Longtime shoppers of Goody’s Family Clothing were excited to see the department store reopen (under new corporate ownership) after the location sat empty for more than one year.
A line of over 300 people stretched around the Village Shopping Center for the store’s Grand Opening and new and returning employees were welcomed back along with loyal customers.
A new hotel opened in Middlesboro in late December, making Sleep Inn the final addition to the county this year. In addition to adding jobs to the area, the hotel is expected to increase tourism traffic and boost the city’s tax base.
In September, a Recycling Center opened in Middlesboro, the product of two year’s worth of efforts by the 109 (solid waste) Board. Bell Countians can now recycle newspapers, magazines, cardboard, aluminum cans, plastic bottles, office paper, and books at the Center, located on 15th Street in Middlesboro.
A new mayor was elected in Middlesboro this year, and the town said good-bye to Mayor Ben Hickman, who has left City Hall after 17 years.
Hickman was ousted in the primary election earlier this year, and City Councilman Everett “Mammaw” Gulley was defeated by former Judge Executive Bill Kelley.
Mayor-elect Kelley will soon take office.
The Bell County Bobcats said good-bye to a longtime friend this year.
After 24 years as a football coach at Bell County High School, Dudley Hilton resigned to become the new coach at Pikeville College, beginning January 1st.
Hilton has coached in Breathitt, Bourbon and Bell Counties and credits his experience there for the new opportunity.
Hilton’s son, Bell County senior linebacker John Dudley Hilton brought home MVP honors recently at the Kentucky High School Coaches Association All-Star football game, and, his father says the young man will be his first recruit at Pikeville College.
This past fall, Kentucky State Police were able to grant some closure to the family of an elderly Frakes man more than two years after his brutal murder.
Four suspects were arrested for the beating death of 91-year-old William Taylor, who was attacked during a robbery in January 2008.
Deborah Partin, 55, 36-year-old Jeremiah Charles Evans, Candy Nicole Maiden, 27, and Brian W. Hatfield, 33, all of Bell County, were arrested and arraigned for the homicide of Taylor in November.
The four are currently awaiting their pre-trial conference, scheduled for January 31st.
In a tragic incident of domestic violence, 23-year-old Richard Goodman Jr., lost his life to a gunshot wound.
The alleged trigger man was Goodman’s own father, 47-year-old Richard Goodman Sr., who was apprehended on the day of the April shooting after fleeing the scene.
Goodman pleaded not guilty to the charge and is being held in the Bell County Detention Center, awaiting trial for murder on April 26th and 4th-degree assault on February 7th.
Two murder suspects pleaded guilty to the 2009 slaying of another Bell County man and were sentenced this year.
Lora Amburgy and Joshua Parsons -- both accused of invading 70-year-old Paul Slusher’s home in Fourmile, robbing, gagging, and then throwing him into the Cumberland river -- made a surprise change of plea in Bell County Circuit Court in June.
The Pineville couple was arrested on Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2009 for the murder of Paul Slusher. On Thursday, Feb. 5, after nearly two weeks of searching, Slusher’s body was discovered in the Cumberland River.
Commonwealth’s Attorney Karen Greene Blondell recommended a life sentence without the possibility of parole for both defendants. The sentences were not appealed and both are indefinitely behind bars.
A Rose Hill man pleaded guilty this year to the homicide of his mother’s 22-year-old nurse.
In March, 40-year-old Charles James Givens shot Misty Leann Garrett, of Jonesville, Va., when she paid a visit to his mother’s home to provide medical care.
Givens confessed the crime to police and said that he had killed the young woman after she refused to be his girlfriend. In April, Givens was sent to a patient-care facility after being ruled incapable of standing trial.
In August, a Lee County Judge deemed the man was re-evaluated and found to be competent and ready for trial.
Methamphetamine crimes rose this year in Kentucky, with more than 1,000 meth labs dismantled by authorities in 2010.
As the drug’s popularity grew, the process of making the substance underwent dangerous innovation. Transportable, one-pot methods known as “shake and bake” labs allowed the explosive drug to show up in automobiles, hotels, and other locations that exposed an increased number of non-users to the danger of meth.
Labs of all kinds were found in Middlesboro and Bell County this year, and the number of meth arrests made by local officials seem to increase each month.
Prescription pharmaceuticals are responsible for their share of troubles in the county, with more pills coming out of Florida with each passing day. In March, a little girl from the Bell County community of Kettle Island lost her life after ingesting prescription pills.
Autopsy results of two-year-old Kayla Elizabeth Mosley revealed that the toddler died from “acute combined intoxication.” Her parents, Rondall J. Mosely, 43, of Pineville, and Carrie E. Brummett, 38, of Kettle Island were charged in her death.
Police say the child somehow got access to prescription medication and died in her home. The child had been dead for several hours before her parents called for help.
On November 15th of this year, both suspects pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter and received eight years in prison.
In October, a body was discovered on fire at Cumberland Gap National Historical Park.
After an investigation by the Kentucky State Police and the FBI, the remains were identified as 62-year-old Harlan man James Earl Long.
Investigators released a description of a possible suspect in the crime, but to date, have made no arrests. The suspect was described as a Caucasian man with gray, curly hair, who stands between 5 feet 9 inches and 5 feet 10 inches tall.
In November, another incident in the Cumberland Gap National Historical Park left the community outraged.
A local man, his dog, and his 18-month-old son were pepper sprayed by the wife of an off-duty Park Ranger.
Craig Sowby told the Daily News that as he attempted to untangle his dog’s leash, and keep up with his son, the dog became free and ran off down the park’s walking trail. As the dog approached the couple, Gene and Stephanie Wesloh, and Mrs. Wesloh sprayed the small animal with pepper spray.
The Ranger, his wife and their dog were approached by the unarmed man carrying the baby. A confrontation ensued and Mrs. Wesloh released her pepper spray twice more, this time onto the man and his baby.
Park representatives took statements from both parties and no criminal charges were pressed.