2012-01-25 / Columns

The way we were

Clips from Mountain Eagle front pages over the past 50 years

January 25, 1962

“Commissioners learn Letcher County broke” reads a front-page headline in The Mountain Eagle. According to county auditor Dexter Dixon, the county has debts totaling $25,842.77, yet only has $6,603.73 on hand.

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The Federal Aviation Agency has announced plans to install a $392,000 air navigation control center at Whitesburg Airport. The center is one of three proposed for eastern Kentucky and one of 50 throughout the nation as part of a system designed to reduce airplane accidents.

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Letcher County Jailer Ben Adams asked the County Commission this week to build a new jail for the county. “We can’t keep it like it is, because it is going to fall down,” he said.

January 27 1972

A Knott County strip-mining protest turned into an angry and tense confrontation as 20 women shut down operations at a Ken-Mack site by sitting in the rain under the blades of a bulldozer. The women, all members of the group Save the Land and the People, remained for 15 hours. The protest was the first of its kind in the strip-mining abolition movement in the mountains.

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President Nixon’s 1973 budget proposes a $34.6 million cut in funding for the black lung program, drawing harsh criticism from Kentucky congressmen. In another move that has angered Kentucky representatives, Nixon proposes the elimination of the Appalachian Regional Commission.

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A fire at the Letcher Manufacturing storage warehouse in Isom destroyed the building and all of its contents. The combined efforts of the Whitesburg and Blackey volunteer fire departments were unable to contain the blaze.

January 28, 1982

The Letcher County Fiscal Court voted unanimously not to allocate a portion of the county’s tax refund to finance the new Whitesburg High School. The court did agree to reconsider helping to pay for the $5.2 million project after June.

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State mine inspectors closed 26 miles for violating safety rules. The “blitz” inspections were prompted by a two-month string of mining accidents that killed 21 people.

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The city government of Hazard says it is looking at plans to build a “Lexington-sized” mall in the city.

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Two eastern Kentucky landmarks in Prestonsburg, a Civil War-era home known as Garfield Place and the old Chessie System rail depot, have been demolished.

January 29, 1992

The fossilized bones discovered by a Mayking man may be “the find of the century” says one archaeologist. He reported that the bones belonging to either a mastodon or a woolly mammoth are a very rare find in eastern Kentucky.

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Residents were angered by the conduct of the Newport Oil and Gas Company, which dumped “thousands and thousands” of tons of dirt in the middle of a county road. Letcher County Judge/Executive Ruben Watts appointed two magistrates to investigate what promises to turn into another high-profile battle with a drilling company.

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The trustees of funds that pay health benefits for 120,000 retired miners notified coal companies that they are doubling required contributions. As a result, some miners fear losing their health benefits.

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After a shortfall in the unmined minerals tax, the Letcher County Library Board says it has no choice but to cut staff hours. About 30 citizens showed up at the board meeting to protest the move, often interrupting with boos and shouts.

January 30, 2002

A “major” rockslide on KY 931 about a quarter of a mile from the top of Cowan Mountain will take days to clean up, officials with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet said. The slide occurred late Saturday in the middle of a curve on the south side of the mountain.

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The Letcher County Board of Education has voted to hire Sherman-Carter-Barnhardt Architects of Lexington to design the proposed new central high school, and Codell Construction of Winchester as construction management firm for the project.

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Customers of the Blackey water system were without water for most of five days after a water line burst and heavy rains prevented officials from locating the leak. Service was finally restored Monday morning.

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Sylvia Miranda Haynes, Matthew Franklin Hampton and Anthony Duty are recipients of the spring Roy R. Crawford Memorial College Scholarships.

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