Whitesburg KY
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The way we were

Clips from Mountain Eagle front pages over the past 50 years

January 11, 1962

The Letcher County Grand Jury issued a final report calling the county jail “a disgrace to the people of Letcher County and a danger to the health of the inmates.” The jurors noted that the outside rear wall of the jail is about to collapse and recommended that the toilets be kept locked except when the offices are open.

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The Whitesburg Municipal Housing Commission has been granted a $14,000 operating budget by the federal government to finance design and construction of the city’s 40-unit low-rent housing project. The budget is designed to cover a 30-month period, but officials are hopeful that the project could be completed in less than 24 months.

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The Jenkins Public Library has received the $5,000 prize awarded to the best community library in the nation. “Selection of Jenkins in the national contest brings honor not only to Letcher County, but to the entire Commonwealth of Kentucky and its recently expanded but still struggling library program,” The Mountain Eagle wrote in an editorial.

January 13, 1972

Area poultry farmer Columbus Sexton reports that his hens have been so jolted by blasts from the Valley Coal Co. that their egg production has plummeted to the point where feeding them has become a money-losing proposition. The hens are producing 50 percent fewer eggs following the blasts, and Sexton has put up a sign offering to sell them for 50 cents each.

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Despite pledges from various state agencies that Kingdom Come State Park will be protected, strip-mining continues in the area and additional permits to strip the land near the park have been granted.

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Several former Letcher County coal miners are among group of nearly 80 miners and miners’ relatives who were awarded $11.5 million in a settlement against the United Mine Workers and the National Bank of Washington. Judge Gerhard A. Gesell ruled that the defendants had conspired to deprive disabled miners of welfare and medical benefits.

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Lt. Col. Jack D. Brummett, son of Mr. and Mrs. Chester Brummett of Jenkins, had been awarded the Air Medal for meritorious achievement while participating in aerial flight in Southeast Asia from August 24, 1970 to July 1, 1971.

January 14, 1982

A rash of fires hit the county, killing two and destroying several trailers. Firefights say most of the fires started when homeowners turned up their heat to combat the sub-zero temperatures that paralyzed most of the state. James Earl Dotson, 45, and his daughter Rhonda Lynn Dotson, 15, were killed in a fire at Fleming-Neon. Later in the week, a fire caused by an exploded fuel heater destroyed the homes of James Stidham and Juanita Amburgey in the Reynolds Trailer Park.

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The Letcher Fiscal Court is expected to decide later in the month whether to help finance construction of the proposed new $5.5 million Whitesburg High School.

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In an effort to pay a mounting power bill, the City of Jenkins has authorized Kentucky Power Co. to disconnect 116 streetlights around the city.

January 15, 1992

State Auditor Bob Babbage released a new audit of Letcher County’s books in which he stated that the Fiscal Court has still not corrected flaws in the management of county affairs that were pointed out last year. There are six areas in which Babbage recommended improvements, including payroll disbursement and check signing.

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Phyllis Barker of Linefork had been granted a new trial after Letcher Circuit Judge F. Byrd Hogg ruled that Mrs. Barker’s attorney was ineffective and that questions directed at a key defense witness made her appear to be a feminist, prejudicing the jury against her.

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A Sonic drive-in restaurant has opened in Whitesburg at Pine Mountain Junction.

January 16, 2002

The water shortage in the Fleming-Neon area has entered its second week and though city and state governments made some headway in addressing the situation over the weekend “we’re still not out of the woods,” said water plant operator Carlos Phillips.

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During his annual State of the Commonwealth address last week, Gov. Paul Patton proposed creating a 120-mile-long state park along the ridge of Pine Mountain in Letcher, Harlan and Bell counties.

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Police in Whitesburg and Jenkins are investigating armed robberies at two gas stations during the past week.

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Letcher County would be split among three legislative districts under a redistricting plan sponsored by House Democrats. The bill would move all but three of Letcher County’s 30 voting precincts out of the 91st Legislative District and divide them among the 92nd and 94th districts.



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