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The way we were

Clips from Mountain Eagle front pages over the past 50 years

July 14, 1960

Sanford Adams, newly elected superintendent of Letcher County schools, said today he is applying to the State Board of Education for the full quota of help due Letcher County under the state’s Minimum Foundation Program. Adams said he hopes to find qualified personnel to fill several jobs which are available to the Letcher County school system under the foundation plan.

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The County Board of Education is proceeding full steam ahead on plans for construction of two new schools in Letcher County. At its meeting Saturday, the board employed D.E. Perkins of Harlan as the architect for the buildings. The schools will be built at Colson and Campbell’s Branch.

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Cases involving the welfare of children again featured the list of 40 indictments handed this week to Judge J.L. Hays by the Letcher County grand jury. Most of the new indictments allege child desertion, but one charged a couple with “unlawfully and unmercifully injuring a child under two years of age.”

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Corned beef is 49 cents a pound at the A&P food store. Wisconsin aged Swiss cheese is 59 cents a pound.

July 16, 1970

A loaded gravel truck smashed into a coal train in Whitesburg Tuesday, killing the driver and causing extensive damage. The tandem tractor-truck was driven by Odie Lacefield of Welch’s Creek. The gravel truck has been hauling gravel from the quarry at Pine Mountain to a Knott County road construction project.

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Letcher County today became the first mountain county to reach a negotiated agreement between teachers and the school board on salary and working conditions within the schools. The agreement provides for a $205 a year pay increase for all teachers, to be paid from local revenue taxes.

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Banking resources in Letcher County jumped 20 percent in the 12-month period which ended June 30. The assets of the two county banks climbed to a new record high of $25,679,647.09.

July 17, 1980

The City of Whitesburg says it will run its own electrical power system if it does not reach an agreement soon with Kentucky Power Co. The city and the power company have been at odds for some time over demands from the city that the power company pay 4 percent of the annual revenues it collects from Whitesburg residents for the right to operate a power franchise within the city’s boundaries.

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A slide from an abandoned strip mine has completely blocked the road up Paces Branch, isolating two households and forcing a resident of one to step in mud, climb a hillside, and wade a creek in order to get to Whitesburg Hospital for treatment.

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Sherrill Slone has been named principal of Letcher High and Elementary Schools, replacing D.C. Taylor, who retired. He has been the assistant principal at Letcher for some time. Truman Halcomb was named to succeed Slone.

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A federal grand jury has brought 144 charges against Clinchfield Coal Co., the parent company of two Wise County, Va., coal mining operations, and 17 employees. Among other things, the grand jury charged that employees of the Wise County mines “willfully took rock dust samples that were not from actual working areas.”

July 18, 1990

The Blackey Community Center, the last community center in the county owned by the people of a community, burn to the ground early July 12, taking an empty house next door with it. Fire officials call in a state police arson investigation team to determine the origin of the fire.

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A local planning committee has vote to allow Donald and Dudley Webb, Lexington developers who grew up in Letcher County, to begin planning for a proposed lodge and recreation at Carr Fork Lake.

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After two months of intense campaigning on both sides, more than 700 hourly employees at South East Coal Co. are to vote within the next week on whether they want to be represented by the United Mine Workers of America. The UMW approached South East employees after the company cut insurance benefits. Employees are also upset because they have not received a pay raise since 1981. Company officials said they would pay higher wages and better insurance benefits if the could afford to.

July 19, 2000

Police officers began rounding up nearly 65 accused drug dealers in Letcher County on Monday morning after sting operations that police say have been going on for nine months.

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A federal judge has given Columbia Natural Resources immediate possession of 43 tracts of land in Letcher and Knott counties, allowing the company to begin construction of a 26-mile natural gas pipeline over the objects of the landowners. Columbia must first place its estimate of a fair market value of each piece of property in escrow with the court. Some tracts are valued at as little as $200 by the company.

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Flash flooding caused scattered damage across the center of Letcher County on July 13, damaging 36 public bridges and roads.

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Accidents in China’s notoriously dangerous coal mines killed 2,730 miners in the first half of the year. The death toll, while still high, is 8 percent lower than the casualty count from the first half of 1999.

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