The director of Kentucky's Reclamation Guaranty Fund expects the first appropriation in early 2015. The fund was established in 2013 to help carry out surface mine site reclamation when a company abandons property. The fund is supported through fees paid by the mining industry. Director Keith Smith says the trust currently stands at about $32 million. "There are at least a couple of sites on that list that the Division of Abandoned Lands won't have enough money with the underlying bond to achieve reclamation and the fund will have to kick in some additional funds," said Smith.
Representatives from several federal agencies gathered in Kentucky this week to discuss future plans for the designated 'Promise Zone.' Eight southeast Kentucky counties make up the area. The initiative, which aims to improve the region's overall quality of life, was unveiled by President Obama during his 2013 State of the Union speech.
Eastern Kentucky's Mountain Parkway expansion is years from completion but Governor Steve Beshear and other state and local officials gathered Thursday in Salyersville to mark the first phase of the project. Mayor Pete Shepherd says the four lane highway will pass through the heart of his eastern Kentucky community.
Damage immediately after the August flash flooding
Governor Steve Beshear Tuesday formally requested federal disaster assistance for four counties in Eastern Kentucky.
Flash flooding during the latter part of August caused significant damage to communities in Floyd, Johnson, Pike, and Knott counties. R.D. "Doc" Marshall is judge executive in Floyd County. "The overall was just a large amount of water quick and then it ran down, but it did cause some damage to some bridges, to some culverts, and especially to the asphalt or the blacktop on the roadways," said Marshall.
A new report says state government needs to spend more money promoting eastern Kentucky as a tourism destination to help the region pull itself out of poverty following the loss of thousands of jobs because of the declining coal industry.
Improvements to a small stretch of Kentucky's Mountain Parkway could pave the way for significant safety, health, and economic benefits. The federal government is allocating 24 million dollars to widen just over two miles of roadway through the community of Salyersville. U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says it's more than just about moving traffic through a rural town.
Eastern Kentucky tourism officials are banking on additional revenue from the extension of the Dawkins Line Rail Trail. Currently, the 18 mile recreational route runs from Hagerhill in Johnson County to Royalton in Magoffin County.
The second phase, which will run nine miles long, will take the trail to the Breathitt County line. Main Street Paintsville Director Bonnie Porter says the trail extension will likely be popular with cyclists.
The top official in the federal Centers for Disease Control is making stops this week in three Kentucky communities. The visits are in connection with the Shaping Our Appalachian Region or SOAR project.
CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden joined Kentucky Congressman Hal Rogers Tuesday for the health impact series symposium in Hazard.
A consultant says Appalachian Air has cleared another hurdle and can start working toward flying in and out of Pikeville.
Adviser Luke Schmidt told the Pikeville City Commission this week that the Pikeville-Pike County Airport won't need a certification from the federal government before allowing the airline to start flying.
Federal grant money totaling $130 thousand dollars will help a southeast Kentucky county build up a historical river walk. The 32 hundred foot connector will link east Manchester residents with downtown. Rodney Miller with Stay in Clay says the river walk has historical significance tied to the civil war. "It was used during the civil war where a thousand union soldiers came down to Manchester and busted up all the salt works at the site of the Pioneer Village and other sites in the county where they were trying to keep salt out of the confederate hands," said Miller.
Eastern Kentucky University and the University of Kentucky Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues are participating in an internship program as part of the "Shaping Our Appalachian Region" or SOAR initiative.
E-K-U is committing 20 thousand dollars to support five interns who will support each of the ten SOAR working groups throughout the summer. The interns will be charged with communicating progress and discussions. It's aimed at promoting transparency and increase citizen participation in the effort to achieve economic and social goals.
Former Arkansas Governor and Republican Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee told a Martin County audience this afternoon the nation has made progress in the “War on Poverty”.
However, he says, the breakdown of the traditional family is causing much of the financial hardship in the U-S today. He says 2012 statistics showed 29 percent of white children, 52 percent of Hispanic children, and 72 percent of African American children were living in one parent households..
Three separate weekend fires on land at Pine Mountain State Park caused damage to timber, but not to resort lodging facilities. A lodge and cottages are located on the Bell County property. State Parks Department Spokesman Gil Lawson says the fires are not expected to impact the spring schedule.
A slice of Appalachian Kentucky life once again descended on the State Capitol for the annual “I Love Mountains Day." The rally at the mid-point of the General Assembly traditionally attracts a large group from eastern Kentucky. That proved to be true again on Wednesday.
The state of Kentucky is now part of a new federal program designed to improve the economics of impoverished communities. The Commonwealth joins West Virginia, Tennessee, and Louisiana as the newest partners in the U-S Department of Agriculture’s Strike-Force Initiative.
Pike County's judge-executive is calling on Kentucky elected officials to extend federal unemployment benefits to help out-of-work miners. Wayne Rutherford wrote a letter this week to Senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul and Rep. Hal Rogers. Rutherford said he finds it "unconscionable and heartless" that lawmakers would decline to extend unemployment benefits.
Magoffin County construction firm owners accused in a bid-rigging and kickback scheme with the judge-executive of Morgan County are scheduled to be arraigned today in federal court. The Independent reports the indictment accuses Morgan Judge-Executive Tim Conley of steering contracts worth $1.1 million to a company owned by Kenneth and Ruth Gambill in exchange for "gifts, payments and other things of value."
A group in Harlan is selling coal-theme candles to help unemployed miners in eastern Kentucky pay their bills. The Lexington Herald-Leader reports a group called Harlan 20/20 is managing the project. Rie Whitfield and Kathy Bianchi say they wanted to come up with a way to help the thousands of coal miners who have been laid off due to a slump in the coal industry.
Road crews in southeastern Kentucky could have a new weapon in their snow and ice fighting arsenal this winter. State transportation officials met with workers recently to outline this year’s snow removal strategy. Les Dixon, from the Manchester district office, says a new salt product called ‘clear lane’ is being considered.
Using the arts to further local economies in eastern Kentucky is the focus of a Somerset conference this week. The Citizens’ Institute on rural Design meeting brings together local leaders, non-profits, community organizations, and citizens. Jack Herlihy studies economic development in Appalachia. He says many eastern Kentuckians take their talents to other communities, such as musicians heading to Tennessee.
Hundreds of Kentuckian are expected to gather in early December to plan a strategy that will help Appalachian counties move forward. Governor Steve Beshear, Congressman Hal Rogers and many other local and state officials made the announcement this morning in Hazard. The December ninth summit is called ‘Shaping Our Appalachian Region.’ Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo believes the event can help generate an agenda.
Credit Blue Ridge Kitties / Flickr, Creative Commons
Reclaiming an old mine site in eastern Kentucky offers new hope for re-establishing American chestnut trees in the Commonwealth. The chestnut, which was a major food source for mountain residents and wildlife, was virtually wiped out by a blight in the early 19 hundreds. Some 14-thousand hardwood seedlings were planted on 16 acres last March in Lawrence County. Kentucky Forest Management Chief Pam Snyder says the project served a dual purpose.
Officers with the Harlan City Police Department have a new accessory for their uniforms — a mobile video camera. WYMT-TV reports the device is worn near the center of an officer's chest and records audio and video for his or her entire shift. The information is downloaded to a computer at the end of the shift.