Federal, state, and local officials joined hundreds of interested residents in Pikeville Monday for the second 'Shaping Our Appalachian Region' Summit. The meeting gave participants an opportunity to strategize on action steps to help move forward the eastern Kentucky economy.
There seems to be significant interest in the state's plans to extend Kentucky's Mountain Parkway. Hundreds of people attended a meeting this week to get a glimpse of two proposals.
The state is planning to extend the Mountain Parkway from Salyersville to Prestonsburg. Two options were on display for more than 300 people attending the public meeting in Prestonsburg. One proposal calls for widening the existing corridor while the second option involves building a new road just north of Kentucky 114.
The federal government will award as much as $38 million in grants this year to assist Eastern Kentucky communities negatively affected by the decline of the coal industry.
Funding will come from the Department of Labor’s Dislocated Worker National Emergency grants, the Small Business Administration and the Appalachian Regional Commission, which is co-chaired by Gov. Steve Beshear.
A Senate bill that would establish a state framework for the 'Shaping Our Appalachian Region' initiative passed out of a House committee Tuesday. First term Jackson Representative Cluster Howard is hopeful that economic gains made through the state-federal effort can help reduce drug problems in eastern Kentucky. "You end up with people feeling bad and they end up trying drugs to actually feel better, self-medicate, is what I say and I think with economic development and people having a future will eliminate some of that," said Howard.
A group of central Kentucky land owners and interested citizens are joining together to fight oil and natural gas fracking in their area. The first public meeting of 'Frack Free Foothills' is scheduled for Tuesday night in Berea.
Kentucky and Wisconsin are entering into an agreement to help establish a more sound elk population up north, while supporting habitat management in the Bluegrass. The program will take place over the next three to five years.
The partnership means sending 150 elk cows to Wisconsin. State officials say in 1997, with the help of six other states, Kentucky re-established its elk population. Today there are some 10,000 elk, many in eastern Kentucky.
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..