Holidays are a time for giving and helping others. Marking 37 years of delivering toys and treats to Harlan County children, Mike “Mountain Santa” Howard says he is looking forward to seeing all the smiling faces with this year’s deliveries beginning on Dec. 15. “I begin my runs on Dec. 15 and finish on Dec. 24,” said Howard, 59, of Wallins. “Last year we gave away over 100 truck loads of toys, along with treats. I have people who come from Mississippi, North Carolina, Louisville and Knoxville, just to name a few, to help me deliver the toys.”
Kentucky’s adventure tourism effort is traveling down a new trail. Ground was broken Tuesday on the Dawkins Line project in eastern Kentucky. The trail, which runs along a former railroad line, is expected to attract hikers, horseback riders, and cyclists. It’s a 36 mile trek that travels through Johnson, Magoffin, and Breathitt counties. Work is underway for the first phase of the project. It spans 18 miles from Hagerhill in Johnson County to Royalton in Magoffin County.
The Roman Catholic missionary who founded the Christian Appalachian Project died overnight. Since World War Two, Monsignor Ralph Beiting served the people of eastern Kentucky through a series of social service programs. WEKU’s Charles Compton, who knew the Catholic priest, has this appreciation.
A rally in support of coal is scheduled for this weekend in southeast Kentucky. It stemmed from a Facebook post, but now Bell County resident and business owner Joe Harris says he expects more than 20,000 people to line a county road Saturday in support of coal.
The first month of sales of packaged beer in Corbin has generated more than $22,000 in tax revenue for the city. Corbin Alcoholic Beverage Control Officer Bruce Rains said the 12 vendors who have received licenses to sell packaged beer, made payments to the city totaling $22,435.64. The city's alcohol ordinance calls for a four percent tax on the sale of beer. That means the vendors took in a combined $560,891 from the sale of beer in June.
A proposal to apply for $1 million in multi-county coal severance funding in order to continue a project to establish commercial air service in Pike County will remain in a holding pattern for now. The Pike Fiscal Court, in its regular meeting on Tuesday, again declined to act on the proposal, for which a court resolution supporting the possible allocation of $1 million is required, despite the pleas of a consultant who is working on the project that this may be the last chance.
A personnel carrier involved in a fatal coal-mining accident in Letcher County had been altered so it no longer had an original safety feature, according to the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration. The agency cited the coal company in relation to the modification, and for using the carrier in a way that was dangerous. A mine foreman, Jerry E. Britton, 47, died in the Nov. 7 accident, which happened at the Hubble Mining Company LLC Mine No. 9, an underground mine about three miles west of Eolia.
Federal mine-safety regulators want to fine a Harlan County coal company nearly $600,000 for alleged safety violations that led to the death of a miner last year. The U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration announced the fine for Manalapan Mining Co. Inc. on Thursday. The fine is a proposed penalty because the company is contesting the citations that led to the fine.
Pike County Judge-Executive Wayne T. Rutherford’s office has announced that it is working toward establishing the region’s first natural gas filling station along U.S. 119 in Pike County. The announcement comes after Rutherford recently announced the county was requesting funding for the project and comes after Ford Motor Co. and General Motors announced in March they were investing in compressed natural gas, or CNG, technology.
A major coal company with mines in Appalachia and Western Kentucky has filed for bankruptcy. In a news release, Patriot Coal said it was undertaking the move to facilitate restructuring. "The coal industry is undergoing a major transformation and Patriot's existing capital structure prevents it from making the necessary adjustments to achieve long-term success," said Patriot Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Irl F. Engelhardt. "Our objective is to use the reorganization process to address important issues in an orderly way and make the Company stronger and more competitive."
It wasn't supposed to happen to coal miners in Mark McCowan's generation. It wasn't supposed to strike so early and so hard. At age 47 and just seven years after his first diagnosis, McCowan shouldn't have a chest X-ray that looks this bad.
"I'm seeing more definition in the mass," McCowan says, pausing for deep breaths as he holds the X-ray film up to the light of his living room window in Pounding Mill, Va.
A Pike County miner has died following an accident at the McCoy Elkhorn Coal Corporation's Mine No. 23 in Kimper. From the Kentucky Office of Mine Safety and Licensing: Preliminary reports indicate 33-year-old Farley Sargent was laying track when a rib roll occurred. A rib roll is when a portion of the coal pillar wall falls into the corridor.
An Eastern Kentucky coal miner can return to work after a judge ruled he was unfairly fired from his job. The decision affirms the rights of coal miners to report unsafe working conditions without fear of retribution. Charles Scott Howard was injured while working at a mine operated by Cumberland River Coal Company in Eastern Kentucky. The complaint alleges that even after he was cleared by doctors to return to work, the coal company took extreme steps to keep him from working.
One of the nation’s largest coal companies has announced it will be closing several mines and preparation plants in Eastern Kentucky.Alpha Natural Resources will stop mining coal at four mines in Martin and Pike counties and idle two preparation plants. The company has enough jobs at other locations to reassign 286 employees, but about 150 will lose their jobs.
The federal government has filed a lawsuit against seven Eastern Kentucky coal companies, alleging the companies discharged waste into nearby valleys and streams without a permit. Coal companies need to obtain permits from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers before mining in order to comply with the Clean Water Act.
If Virginia is for lovers, then Pike County is for feuding. The History channel miniseries about the infamous Kentucky and West Virginia families has drawn huge viewership, propelling the Eastern Kentucky county into the pop-culture ether and pushing a historical tome by a Lexington publisher to the top of the sales charts.
Kentuckians can see a bit of what pioneer Daniel Boone saw when he crossed into Kentucky in 1775. The Fort Boonesborough Foundation is sponsoring two tours this summer. A one day tour on August 21stbegins and ends at Fort Boonesborough and includes a trip to Levi Jackson State Park. Foundation Secretary Elizabeth Chalfant says they’ll also offer two-day tours in July and September. Those trips also begin in Madison County.
This spring’s devastating storms and tornadoes thrashed Kentucky communities, marking the 11th federally declared disaster in the state since 2008. To support ongoing recovery efforts, Gov. Steve Beshear Friday ceremonially signed legislation to help Kentuckians when they are victims of natural disasters. Several members of the General Assembly joined the governor for the ceremony in West Liberty, where the central business district was devastated by the March 2 tornado outbreak that heavily damaged several other communities and killed 24 Kentuckians.
For a quarter of a century, Eastern Kentuckians have gathered to discuss progress in their region. Today and Tomorrow (Friday), they gather in Prestonsburg. This year’s East Kentucky Leadership Conference will compare the economies of two Appalachian states. East Kentucky Leadership Foundation Director Bill Weinberg says studies show 70 percent of east Kentucky’s counties are distressed while only four percent are distressed in Appalachian Virginia. The longtime east Kentucky activist says Virginia might have better education and infrastructure, but, in some ways, the differences are minimal.
Eastern Kentucky’s largest healthcare provider is suing the state and two major managed care operators (MCO) for failing to manage the new privatized Medicaid system. Appalachian Regional Healthcare, which provides a majority of the healthcare services to eastern Kentucky (locations noted on map), may soon lack adequate protection against high medical costs.
It was only a month ago that an outbreak of tornadoes barreled through Kentucky and killed 24 people. Only a month, but sometimes, for Laurel County Judge-Executive David Westerfield, it seems as if more like six months have passed. So much has happened on the way to recovery, and so much more remains to be done, Westerfield said.
As the two-year anniversary nears of the deadliest coal mine disaster in recent history, the Mine Safety and Health Administration is still trying to address some of the explosion’s root causes. One of the biggest impediments for federal inspectors is mine operators who break the law and give advance notice of inspections. When inspectors arrive at a coal mine, the first thing they do is try to capture the mine’s communication systems.
A new permit that will change the way the federal government deals with some surface coal mining permits goes into effect today. The new permit issued by the Army Corps of Engineers has more stringent standards to protect the environment. When coal operators want a permit for a surface mine, they have two choices. They can try to get a so-called “Nationwide Permit” from the Army Corps of Engineers, or they can go through a more rigorous process and get an individual permit, which involves both the Army Corps and the Environmental Protection Agency.
The war of words over coal severance funds for Pike County is heating up as officials paint a bleak picture of how the county may suffer if recently proposed funding allocations are not reconsidered. State lawmakers, however, are challenging the county to tighten its belt and avoid making "heartburn"-inducing requests.
Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet Secretary Len Peters Friday named Robert F. Scott as the new director of the Division of Abandoned Mine Lands (AML). Scott, a civil engineer, most recently created mine and waterline designs for a Lexington engineering firm. Prior to that position, he worked for more than 26 years for AML as a design engineer, a design branch manager and served as the assistant director, according to a press release issued by the state.
Tornado survivors in Kentucky will have more time to file their federal and state tax returns. In the 21 Kentucky counties listed as federal disaster areas, taxpayers will have an extra six weeks to file their returns. Kentucky Revenue Officials follow many of the same guidelines set by the federal Internal Revenue Service for disaster relief. Department of Revenue spokesman Gary Morris says the filing deadline in now in late spring.
State lawmakers are considering a bill that would designate some coal severance tax money to scholarships for coalfields residents; the measure has already passed the House. But a report by a non-profit group warns that Kentucky needs to think about the long-term future of the state’s coal severance fund. Coal producers pay a tax of four and a half percent value of coal that’s sold into the state’s coal severance fund. Half of that money goes to Kentucky’s general fund, and the other half goes to various programs in coal-producing counties.
The emotional impact of a natural disaster may linger for weeks or months. Such is the situation facing people in eastern Kentucky communities like Salyersville. Although there was no loss of life, the recent tornado caused extensive physical damage in Salyersville. Angie Conley is a registered nurse at the HOPE Family Medical Center in Salyersville. For some survivors, Conley says the trauma can linger.
Besides physical damage to structures and people who stand in their way, natural disasters like a tornado can do damage that’s not always visible. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a mental ailment often associated with combat veterans. Eastern Kentucky psychologist Mark J-Hovee told WEKU’S Stu Johnson surviving a tornado can bring on similar symptoms.