Whitesburg KY

The way we were

Clips from Mountain Eagle front pages over the past 50 years



December 3, 1959

Letcher County is preparing to open, dedicate and occupy over the holidays “the finest school plant in this part of the state.” The new Letcher High and Grade School is nearing completion on Rockhouse Creek near Jeremiah, and it inspired Kern Whitaker, member of the Letcher County Board of Education, to call it a model school building.

Whitesburg’s city water supply has been unsafe for drinking without boiling for the past several weeks, although it may be safe now. Fire Chief Remious Day said the chlorine injector was not working, and that no chlorine was going into the water.

A polio benefit show featuring some local and imported hillbilly talent will be held at the Whitesburg High School gym on Friday night, Dec. 11. Main feature is a Miss Brenda Lee, whose press agent claims she is a celebrated TV star.

Letcher County football players dominated the annual EKMC all-star teams picked by the coaches recently. The state scoring champion, Roger Kincer, and Bert Bradshaw of Whitesburg, James Mahan and Ralph Clark of Jenkins, and William Stambaugh of Fleming-Neon made the first team. Bill Howard of Jenkins, Wayne Barker of Whitesburg, and Harlan Seals and Chester Isaacs of Fleming-Neon were second-team choices.

December 4, 1969

The federal courts have been asked to halt strip mining by Bethlehem Steel Corp. in Letcher County. A suit was filed by Luther M. Johnson of Blackey, seeking $2.1 million from Bethlehem, and an order halting further stripping.

Letcher County coal miners are expected to vote overwhelmingly in favor of incumbent United Mine Workers president W.A. “Tony” Boyle in next Tuesday’s UMW elections. The county is a part of UMW District 30, one of the few in which no significant inroads have been made by Joseph “Jock” Yablonski, the candidate challenging Boyle for the union leadership.

About 100 citizens of Neon agreed Monday night to do everything within their power to assist a prefabricated housing manufacturer to locate at Neon.

December 6, 1979

The Fleming-Neon City Council is launching a campaign to win rural support for federal flood insurance, a requirement for receiving $14 million in grants for a water and sewer project for Fleming-Neon and other areas of upper Letcher County.

Although concrete in the foundation of the hilltop Jenkins water tank which burst last July was only about half as strong as it should have been, the lack of reinforcing steel in the foundation was the primary cause for the tank’s failure, according to a Lexington engineering firm’s fourmonth investigation.

A 31-year-old Blackey man was killed last Wednesday in an underground mine accident when the electricity to the coal feeder equipment he was working on was switched on. Ronnie Watts had worked at National Mines for three years. The accident occurred at the National Mines Corporation’s Stenson No. 3 Mine near Raven in Knott County.

The number of unemployed Letcher Countians dropped slightly in October, according to the state Department of Human Resources. Unemployment in the county dropped .2 percent from 13 percent in September to 12.8 percent in October.

December 6, 1989

The state Revenue Cabinet says the new Letcher County school tax rate will increase receipts, but one school official says the system may be in for hard times. Daryl Boggs, assistant superintendent for finance for the Letcher County Board of Education, said the board could face some hard times because the state has not completed assessment on unmined minerals and those taxes were not included on the tax bills.

Letcher Circuit Judge F. Byrd Hogg has asked a North Carolina company to consider Letcher County as a site for a medical waste incinerator. The incinerator, which would be the largest in the United States, has been turned down by two eastern Kentucky counties already, after public outcries over the proposal.

Several people have seen deer in Letcher County recently, but some of them probably wish they had seen them sooner. State conservation officer Jerry Coots said Thursday that he was called every night last week to pick up deer that had been killed by cars in Letcher County. One night two were hit; one was killed and the other injured.

December 8, 1999

A committee looking for land for a proposed Letcher County central high school wants an engineer to evaluate possible sites to determine which would be suitable for a school. The committee is considering nine sites scattered between Kona and Isom.

The state highway department has changed the name of Old U.S. 23 and 119 to KY 805. That has caused the Letcher County 911 system to have to re-address 173 structures along Jenkins’s main drag and beyond. The agency will also have to rewrite the address book police use to find residences and re-address each intersection with new mileage marker.

A bottle deposit like the one to be considered by the Kentucky General Assembly next month would help Letcher County, the official in charge of the county’s recycling program said. Deputy Judge/Executive Mike Gover said the 5- to 10-cent deposit being proposed for bottles would help the county recycling program, but more importantly it would clean up the roadsides.

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