Saturday, December 07, 2013

Ky. Appalachian 'summit' Monday draws more than 1,500 registrants; will be telecast, videostreamed

A summit to face the crises of Eastern Kentucky, called for Monday, Dec. 9, by the area's Republican congressman and the state's Democratic governor, has attracted more than 1,500 registrants and will be telecast by the state's television network and the region's TV station. The Lexington Herald-Leader has a scene-setter story, here. UPDATE, Dec. 8: the paper's opinion section today and tomorrow is devoted to the issue, and columnist Tom Eblen writes about it.

Bill Goodman of Kentucky Educational Television writes, "We’ll provide live coverage of the summit starting at 9 a.m. on KETKY and online at Along the way, I’ll have interviews with various participants to get their perspectives on the day’s events. If you can’t watch our live coverage, you can follow this blog and my Twitter account for an ongoing synopsis of the presentations." Goodman also notes the Facebook page "that Gov. Steve Beshear and U.S. Rep. Harold "Hal" Rogers have established for the "Shaping Our Appalachian Region" project, and a wrap-up show with Beshear and Rogers, to be telecast on KET's main channel at 8 p.m. ET.

WYMT-TV in Hazard, a CBS affiliate, says it will broadcast the summit live from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m., with continuous coverage on its website.

The summit is being held in Pikeville, seat of Kentucky's easternmost county, which borders Virginia and West Virginia. The impetus for the effort is the recent loss of 6,000 jobs in Eastern Kentucky's coal industry, which has dominated the region for a century but is suffering from depletion of easily mined coal, competition with natural gas, and new environmental regulations. The effort is being helped by the Appalachian Regional Commission and the Rural Development branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and  Rural Policy Research Institute CEO Charles Fluharty is the facilitator.

The effort is aimed at finding long-term solutions to the region's economic problems, but in an editorial this week, The Mountain Eagle of Whitesburg called for a public-works jobs program like the Civilian Conservation Corps that President Franklin D. Roosevelt created soon after he took office during the Great Depression. The weekly suggested that the program and other efforts could be funded with $2.5 billion in the federal fund to reclaim abandoned mines, which is funded by a national severance tax on coal.

The editorial said, in part: "In addition to the problems unemployed coal miners and their families face, thousands of young men and women are living in the region without much hope today — stuck in poverty, nothing to look forward to, no obvious reason to stay in school, not much chance of finding a job, dealing and doing drugs because that’s what their peers are mostly doing. Could a new CCC help? We’ll never know unless we try. Plenty of regional projects that are still being planned or under way could be scaled up. . . . National and state parks have been underfunded for 25 years, and they’re showing the stress from heavy wear and tear. There are thousands of shovel-ready improvements on administrators’ wish lists. Walk the 1,200-mile-long Appalachian Trail: you’ll see that many if not most of the shelters are in disrepair. Explore our hollows: streams need to be restored, back-road bridges rebuilt, trash picked up, the homes of the elderly weatherized — there’s more than enough work to be done."  (Read more; subscription may be required)

No comments: