SOAR Summit Provides Discussion Forum, Appalachian Expression

Aug 7, 2017

Credit Stu Johnson

The fourth Shaping Our Appalachian Region Summit featured updates on efforts to reinvigorate economies in more than 50 southeastern Kentucky counties. 

They included reports on broadband, workforce training, and a high tech agricultural plan. 

But, the event Friday also provided an avenue for Appalachian expression.


Many would say a primary emphasis of the SOAR initiative is to create new job opportunities for young people in Appalachia.  Mid-morning of the Friday session found a group of Clay County students singing about staying in their community.

In the forefront singing, were Lynsey Haynes, a Clay County native, and Sierra Dunzweiler, who came to southeast Kentucky six years ago after being born in Arizona and living in California. 

“No matter if you’re living in Clay County or you’re living in another part of the world, you always have that part in you,” said Haynes.

"And even if we don’t end up staying in Clay County, I know I’ll return.  It’s just something that you come home to,” responded Dunzweiler.

Attendees at the SOAR summit in Pikeville made up a diverse group. 

Pike County native and election official Marie Childers still believes there’s a place for jobs with a historical connection to the region. 

Childers says, for decades, her husband worked in coal while her dad and son worked for the railroad.