East Kentuckians Are Ready for SOAR
East Kentuckians appear to be plenty ready to create a more diverse and prosperous economy for the people of the region. Over 1,500 have registered to attend the Dec. 9 bi-partisan SOAR meeting in Pikeville where the agenda is sharing ideas for moving the region forward. WMMT spoke with Justin Maxson, President of MACED and a member of the SOAR Commission, Letcher County’s Economic Development Director Joe DePriest, and Bethany Aslinger, a nineteen year old college student from Harlan County, about their expectations for SOAR.
A Clothesline of Quilts
In the 1990s, Elliot County, KY was declared the poorest county in the nation. But rather than going the usual route and focusing efforts on recruiting outside companies to come in, leaders took a different approach to the problem, and looked to build on their own strengths. Two decades later these efforts led by the Elliott County Extension Office are paying off, and Elliot County is making a name for itself through its asset based approach to rural economic development through Arts and Culture.
The Stickneys of Estill County: Landowners Are The Best Fertilizer
Jack and Teresa Stickney with their son Caleb are revitalizing an old Kentucky homestead near the Red River. The Stickneys grow and market shitake mushrooms as well as lead workshops on their use. They also participate in the Appalachian Carbon Partnership — they manage their woodlands in a sustainable manner, thereby sequestering carbon in their forest, in return for support from the sale of ACP carbon offsets. ACP is a project of MACED in Berea, KY.
Riding with the UMWA in a Fight for Healthcare
For several months now, buses full of retired UMWA miners from all over the country have regularly converged upon St. Louis for protests against Peabody Energy and Arch Coal. Peabody and Arch transferred responsibility for the guaranteed lifetime health and pension benefits owed to some 22,000 miners, retired miners, and their families into a third company called Patriot Coal, which went bankrupt last year, throwing thousands of retirees’ health care into question.