Whitesburg KY

The way we were

Clips from Mountain Eagle front pages over the past 50 years

October 5, 1961 The Letcher County Board of Education is preparing to build a four-room addition to the Eolia grade school. The addition will also include a principal’s office.

. The largest building boom in many years is underway in Letcher County. Under construction are a new bank in Whitesburg, a 14-room consolidated grade school at Colson, a eight-room consolidated grade school at Campbell’s Branch, and surfacing of a three-mile portion of the new Jenkins-Whitesburg road, an eventual replacement for US 119. A new airport is under construction on a mountaintop at Camp Branch near Deane, and Wilson Wyatt’s poor man’s Skyline Drive along the top of Pine Mountain is coming along nicely. Recent months have seen the coming of a new A&P Supermarket at Neon, the Cardinal Restaurant in Whitesburg, remodeling and enlargement of the Whitesburg Bargain Store, a four-room addition to the Whitesburg High School English building, a new front for the Tolliver building on Main Street in Whitesburg, a new bridge across the Kentucky River in Whitesburg, an addition to Holstein Hardware and many new residences, several of them in the $30,000 to $50,000 class.

. Citizens from various communities in Letcher County have formed the Letcher County Citizens’ Committee for Public Health to promote a Letcher County public health tax to be voted on by Letcher County residents in the November general election.

October 7, 1971 Only 1,000 miners have been idled in Letcher County as a nationwide contract strike continues. They are employees of Beth-Elkhorn around Jenkins. So far there have been no reports of pickets at non-union mines in the area.

. A group calling itself “Our Common Heritage” has incorporated to work for the return home of eastern Kentuckians who have migrated to other areas of the country to find work. A prime purpose of the organization is to prepare a computerized list of skills of eastern Kentuckians who will return to the area if work becomes available.

. The U.S. Bureau of Mines says it plans to “inspect the hell” out of eastern Kentucky’s small mines in an effort to scale down the coal mining death rate here, which is by far the highest in the country.

. Nearly 100 people attended the first annual reunion of former students of the Carcassonne school.

October 8, 1981 A Kentucky State Police “saturated patrol” that resulted in the arrests of 111 people in Knott County last week will soon make an appearance in Letcher County, state police spokesmen said. The Knott County patrol resulted in 65 arrests for public intoxication and drinking on the highway and 46 arrests for driving on the highway while under the influence of alcoholic beverages. In addition, 322 citations — ranging from speeding to drinking in public — were issued, 106 courtesy notices were written, and 277 vehicles were inspected.

. The water level in the Jenkins reservoir has dropped more than a foot in a short period, and city officials are worried about the possibility of a repeat of last year’s troubles when Jenkins Lake nearly dried up and left 4,000 residents without water.

. A new special grand jury is to go into session this week to “investigate election corruption, if any” which may have occurred during the May primary. This is the second time in two years that a special grand jury has been called to investigate county-government related charges of misconduct.

. Letcher County’s unemployment rate is 10.4 percent. The county is one of 14 in eastern Kentucky with jobless rates above 10 percent.

October 9, 1991 Several Letcher County families — mainly Breedings and Isons — played a major part in research on a eye disease presented this week at an international genetics conference in Washington, D.C. Teachers at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston, Tex., located a gene that causes a form of retinitis pigmentosa, a hereditary eye disease that often leads to blindness. Many members of the two Letcher County families have the disease, sometimes known as RP. Since 1975, the Texas researchers have been to Letcher County five times to examine members of the Breeding and Ison families who were here for family reunions. The 600 or so family members were willing to give time and samples of their blood to the research, which was centered on their family disease.

. A Letcher County man is to be treated for a tumor this week with a new machine that is revolutionizing brain surgery. The machine, known as the gamma knife, was installed last month at the University of Kentucky and one of only 10 in the United States and 24 in the world. The Letcher County man is Bill Howard of Neon. The surgery will be the fourth which Howard has undergone in an effort to be free of a brain tumor.

. Members of the Jenkins City Council say they will pay 18,240 to correct a design problem in the city’s new sewage treatment plant.

October 10, 2001 The Letcher Fiscal Court has approved the first reading of an ordinance to regulate the way the petroleum industry builds natural gas pipelines here. The new ordinance comes from an unusual source — talks between the citizens group Kentuckians for the Commonwealth and Columbia Natural Resources Inc., one of the state’s largest natural gas drilling companies.

. Appalshop is on the road, bringing its two-year national tour “Voices from Home” to New York City. “Voices from Home” features artists from Appalachia and New York whose work explores the cultures of rural Appalachia and urban New York — including Puerto Rican communities in the Bronx.

. Defending Region 8 volleyball champion Letcher will be going after its third straight championship when the six-team, double-elimination District 32 tournament opens this week at the Sherman Neace Athletic Center in Hazard.

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