Whitesburg KY
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The way we were

Clips from Mountain Eagle front pages over the past 50 years

September 29, 1960

Governors of 11 states will meet in Lexington Oct. 17 and 18 to consider problems of the Appalachian area, which includes Letcher County and the rest of eastern Kentucky.

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The Whitesburg Choral Club will meet for its first rehearsal at Craft Funeral Home on Friday, Oct. 7. The director this season will be Frank Bickel.

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John Morgan’s Jenkins Cavaliers pushed the favored Prestonsburg Blackcats all during the first half, and then clinched the contest 6-0 when Larry Pack intercepted a Prestonsburg pitchout and sped untouched for 56 yards.

October 1, 1970

The highly controversial bypass route for KY 15 through Whitesburg proposed by the State Highway Department has been approved by the Kentucky River Development District Board, on recommendation of Whitesburg Mayor Ferdinand Moore. The route, which would cut across the Cowan Street-School Hill-Upper Bottom-Hospital area, was criticized because it would take so much already developed land, would create safety and traffic hazards, and would jeopardize future growth potential at Whitesburg Hospital.

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Letcher County is one of the major centers for new drilling activities in search of natural gas deposits in eastern Kentucky. The Kentucky West Virginia Gas Company, based in Prestonsburg, has a 75-well drilling quota for this year.

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River Coal Co. of Hazard was fined $5,000 this week by the Division of Strip Mining and Reclamation for working two days while under suspension. The company was also cited for several other major violations of strip-mining regulations.

October 2, 1980

A Beth-Elkhorn Coal Corp. official dismissed as having “no foundation” claims made by several employees of the company’s Mine 25 that coal company officials were trying to instigate a strike at the mine. Miners charged that the company is trying to fuel a strike in order to put salaried employees of the recently closed Mine 29 to work at Mine 25. The company retained nearly 30 salaried workers at Mine 29 after laying off 150 miners there nearly two weeks ago.

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Three of the nation’s five safest underground coal mines during 1979 are located in eastern Kentucky, according to the Mine Safety and Health Administration. They are Mine No. 2-A, Benham Coal Co., Harlan County; A-Four Mine of Eastern Coal Corp. in Pike County; and Benham Division No. 3 of Bow Valley Resources in Harlan County.

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In what at least three magistrates contend was an illegally held meeting, the Letcher Fiscal Court met for its September session and approved the minutes for the court’s August meeting, which it refused to do less than two weeks ago. Magistrates Lee Hogg and George Arthur Adams left the session at its beginning, claiming they had not had sufficient notification that it was to be held. They returned after the arrival of Magistrate Charles Dixon, who had told the court he would be a half hour late. In approving the minutes, the court guaranteed continuation of the Concentrated Employment and Training program, a federal jobs program which includes 36 Letcher County workers.

October 3, 1990

The United Mine Workers union has given indications that it might try to organize more workers at coal companies in Letcher and Knott counties. Members of the newly formed UMWA Local 3007 in Whitesburg were inviting miners at Golden Oak Mining Co. and Big Elk Creek Coal Co. to a “special service” to honor two miners recently fired from a Golden Oak mine in Knott County. An attorney for the men says they were fired because a Golden Oak boss overheard them discussing an attempt to try to organize their fellow workers. The new UMWA local was formed after South East Coal Co. workers voted overwhelmingly in July to have the UMWA represent them.

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The Kentucky Supreme Court has ordered new trials for a Letcher County couple accused of killing three persons by locking them in a house trailer at Isom, then setting it afire and burning them alive. The court said the convictions had to be reversed because the trial jury has not been sworn in.

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Most of the top 10 Kentucky coal owners are from out of state, according to preliminary state assessments made under court order. The companies are an even mix of land holding companies and mining firms. The total value of their coal holdings is estimated at $580.5 million.

October 4, 2000

Six of 14 schools in the Letcher County and Jenkins Independent school systems qualified for cash rewards this year under the state’s Commonwealth Accountability Testing System (CATS). But while schools in both systems improved over last year, those schools and schools in eastern Kentucky as a whole still lag behind the rest of the state in actual scores. Of the 14 districts in the 10 Region 8 counties, the Letcher County School District ranked 10th. The Jenkins Independent School District ranked eighth in the region.

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State officials say the proposed Jeremiah-Isom water project will have to take a back seat to improvements in Jenkins. A month after asking the Letcher Fiscal Court to prioritize the use of coal severance tax money here, the Kentucky governor’s office is saying the $471,000 appropriated for the Childs Branch Industrial Site at Jenkins must be spent first, despite county plans to the contrary.

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Wildlife biologists will be on Pine Mountain this week to help determine whether the state should allow a gas pipeline to cross the Pine Mountain Wildlife Management Area.

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State officials have approved a tax credit incentive for an industry to locate in Isom. The Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority on Sept. 28 approved a tax credit of $1,125,000 for Mountaineer Furniture Manufacturing, if the company creates 75 jobs at an average wage of $8.25 an hour.


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