Mountain Kentucky

State Park Manager Gives 50-50 Chance of a Colorful Fall

Oct 2, 2015

    Mid-October is typically considered the peak period for viewing the changing colors in Kentucky trees.  It’s difficult to predict with any certainty the amount of color coming this fall.

Good Neighbors, Inc.

    It’s been over two months since an eastern Kentucky flash flood claimed lives, homes, and belongings.  The tiny community of Flatgap in Johnson County took a major hit.  WEKU's Stu Johnson visited one family in the area that's still working to pick of the pieces.


A Rowan County deputy clerk issued a marriage license to a same-sex couple Friday morning, ending a months-long protest from the office led by Clerk Kim Davis, who remains in jail on a contempt of court charge.

James Yates and William Smith Jr. were issued the license shortly after the clerk’s office opened in Morehead on Friday:


Blaze in Downtown Hazard Under Control, Firefighters Say

Sep 1, 2015
Erin Joseph / The Hazard Herald

A large structure fire in downtown Hazard continued to burn but was under control by 11:10 a.m. Tuesday.

Everyone had been evacuated from the burning building, which houses Peking Chinese Restaurant and apartments, and from the neighboring buildings, dispatcher James Durell said.

A Federal Communications Commission fund is paying $21 million annually to Windstream Communications Inc. to make broadband Internet service available to more than 62,000 rural homes and businesses in Kentucky. / Alpha Natural Resources Inc.

Coal producer Alpha Natural Resources Inc. has told 292 workers in Kentucky and Virginia they are losing their jobs.


Bluegrass music is an integral part of Kentucky's culture.  It routinely sounds out in formal and informal settings. That includes the weekly get-togethers at Carl and Norma's Lil' Opry House in Maytown.  The down-home venue in Morgan County has become a breeding ground for young musicians.

Every Tuesday night, local bluegrass musicians gather at the Maytown Opry for their weekly jam session. The small white building, formerly a grocery store, is lined with church pews, with an American flag hanging behind the stage. 

Second SOAR Summit Focuses on 'Working the Plan'

May 11, 2015

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.

The U.S. Department of Labor has approved a $7.5 million grant to help out-of-work coal miners in eastern Kentucky.

Mountain Parkway Extension Options Examined

Apr 15, 2015

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. 

Beshear, Feds Announce $38 Million In Grants For Coal Communities

Mar 28, 2015

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.

Stu Johnson / WEKU News


The University of Kentucky has been selected to head the first federal Rural Child Poverty Nutrition Center.  The program aims to reduce child food insecurity in states with high poverty.

SOAR Legislation Continues to Move in Frankfort

Mar 10, 2015

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.

The Kentucky National Guard is helping distribute water in communities where many households are without due to bitter cold temperatures.

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. 

Second SOAR Summit Planned for February

Jan 22, 2015

Plans are underway for the second 'Shaping Our Appalachian Region' Summit.  The February meeting is expected to focus on implementing economic and social strategies for eastern Kentucky.

Over 100 Kentucky Elk Heading to Wisconsin

Jan 12, 2015


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.   

SOAR Initiative Approaching its 2nd Year

Dec 29, 2014

The 'Shaping Our Appalachian Region' initiative is moving into its second year. Expectations about economic growth are tempered with the realization that new jobs aren't created overnight.

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. 

One and a Half Million Dollars to Go for Hazard Water Project

Oct 16, 2014

Residents of an eastern Kentucky town can look forward to a new sewer system.  During a stop in Hazard Thursday, Governor Steve Beshear brought word of state funding for the project.

You might not think construction of a new sewer system would be a headline grabber.  But, to many people in the Hazard community, it will mean increased security for a critical utility. 

During the winter of 2009-20-10, the Hazard water treatment and distribution system experienced severe failures.  Some areas saw water outages for up to 45 days.


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.  

Wet Summer is Perfect Set Up for Bright Fall Colors

Sep 27, 2014

Over the next few weeks, Kentuckians and visitors to the Commonwealth will likely begin to see trees changing to fall colors.  

A popular viewing site for colorful fall trees is Natural Bridge State Park.

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 Rail Trail Expansion Hailed as Economic Booster

Sep 15, 2014

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 Washington Post

West Virginia billionaire Jim Justice has reached a $1.5 million settlement with Kentucky officials over dozens of reclamation violations at several of his coal mines in eastern Kentucky.

A highway connector project just completed in central Kentucky could boost industrial opportunities for Jackson and neighboring counties.

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.