How to Shape Our Appalachian Future?
As SOAR prepares for its 3rd gathering, an “Innovation Summit” on June 6 in Pikeville, WMMT spoke with Executive Director Jared Arnett about his vision for the organization’s future, which includes focusing on creating a social network of people united in efforts to build the region’s economy. For another perspective we spoke with Willa Johnson, a McRoberts, KY native who works with young people as a KVEC staffer and media producer for the online learning network The Holler. Johnson talks about what she sees as the kinds of conversations younger people are looking to participate in and stressed the need to create a space that is genuinely inclusive and open to tackling tough issues.
EKY Health and Wealth Expands with ACA, Medicaid
Did you know that newly covered Medicaid recipients were responsible for bringing in an additional $22.8 million in health care spending in Letcher County, KY, over a 20 month period? And over $257 million in the ten hardest hit eastern Kentucky coal mining counties? In this story we visit with staff at Mountain Comprehensive Health Corporation headquarters in Whitesburg to talk about the impact that the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare” as some call it) and Kentucky’s Medicaid expansion has had on patients, health care providers, and the community as a whole. We also hear from Jason Bailey from the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy and Emily Beauregard, director of Kentucky Voices for Health, regarding concerns about Gov. Bevin’s pledge to dismantle KYnect and change Medicaid eligibility.
Celebrating Place with Poet George Ella Lyons
Celebrating the place where we’re from, and the people who hail from there, is an important step in recognizing and building on the many assets that can be used to revive and strengthen our communities. WMMT’s Benny Becker travelled to Harlan, KY to join the George Ellabration, a community celebration of Kentucky poet laureate and eastern Kentucky native George Ella Lyons. Lyons has taught poetry to young and old around the state, often starting with a “Where I’m From…” writing exercise. She believes that local cultural celebrations and place-based artistic activities encourage reflection about our roots and the values we want to fight for even in hard times.
Celebrating New Clinch River State Park
The communities of Cleveland, St. Paul and Dungannon, a “string of pearls” along the Clinch River in southwestern Virginia, have a lot to celebrate. A coalition of public and private groups worked over many years to convince Virginia regulators and legislators to designate 130 miles of the Clinch River and a patchwork of land along its banks as a state park, overcoming objections to this unconventional geographic layout.
Participants in the Clinch River Valley Initiative – CRVI – believe the park will help the area realize its potential as a major tourist attraction. WMMT Contributor Rich Kirby takes us to St. Paul to join in the celebration.