Whitesburg KY
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The way we were

Clips from Mountain Eagle front pages over the past 50 years

February 8, 1962 Kentucky’s arts and crafts program, designed to help Kentuckians help themselves, came to Letcher County this week with the organization of the Lonesome Pine Crafts Guild at Blackey. The guild will operate a handicraft center to produce hooked rugs for sale through retail and wholesale outlets developed by the Kentucky Department of Economic Development. Mary Ann Adams, a teacher at Blackey, is helping to set up the crafts group. The center at Blackey is the first to produce hooked rugs and also the first to assemble large classes of persons who want to learn a craft for production of goods which may be sold.

. The Letcher County Board of Education is organizing series of adult education classes at the school system’s four high schools. The county is the 13th pilot county in a General Adult Education Program sponsored by the Kentucky Department of Education as part of the state’s Rural Development Program.

. First Security Bank, Letcher County’s first drive-in bank, is to open its new Whitesburg building next week.

February 10, 1972 A life and death drama between law officers and two Virginia State Prison escapees took place in Letcher County this week when the armed escapees held the Worley Sturgill family as hostages at their home in Eolia for more four hours Sunday before surrendering peacefully to Kentucky State Police Trooper Tommy Wright and Sheriff ’s Deputy Gene Adams. The event took on the form of a Hollywood thriller as Wright faced a sawed-off double barrel shotgun while he tried to talk the two men into releasing their hostages and surrendering without violence. Sturgill and his wife and two young sons were being held in the house. Wright, a Letcher County native, has been a Kentucky state trooper since 1957 when he was discharged from the armed forces after combat duty in Korea. He served first in Floyd County and then returned to Letcher County in 1960. He said the situation with the Sturgills was the tightest spot he had ever been in. In war, he said, at least you know everybody’s there for the same purpose, “but the family in the house didn’t have any choice.”

. A group of United State senators is expected to arrive by helicopter Monday to look at strip mining in the mountains.

. Eastern Kentucky’s first ski area has opened in Lynch.

February 11, 1982 Three persons have been indicted in connection with the murder of Premium native Earnest Gay Amburgey, 34, who was apparently beaten severely and shot to death at his home in Frankfort and then driven in his car to a spot in Franklin County where the car was deliberately wrecked. Two men and Amburgey’s wife were arrested in connection with the murder.

. Cumberland officials met with state officials this week in hopes of convincing them to reverse a decision not to rebuild a 20.6-mile section of the road between Cumberland and Whitesburg that crosses Pine Mountain, the state’s second highest peak.

. USACO Coal Co., a German-owned firm which at one time planned extensive mining activities in Letcher County, won an injunction preventing the sale or transfer of assets belong to four other firms which USACO has charged with fraud and breach of contract.

. Letcher Fiscal Court says it will rejoin the Kentucky River Health District. The move will permit the county health department to receive state funds, which account for about 25 percent of the Letcher County Health Department’s budget.

February 12, 1992 Teachers in 11 Letcher County schools have rejected school-based decision making for the second year in a row. Arlie Boggs Elementary School was the only one to accept the new form of school governance in the second round of voting, which took place during the past month. West Whitesburg Elementary School and Hemphill Elementary School accepted the plan in 1991.

. The December jobless rate in Letcher County was 14 percent, according to figures compiled by state officials. The rate was up from 13.3 percent in November and almost double the 7.9 percent rate record in December 1990.

. Seco residents say sewer odors are a big problem in the community. They say the odor comes from the sewage treatment plant erected by the City of Fleming-Neon several years ago. They residents say the fumes are strong enough to burn their eyes.

February 13, 2002 Letcher County has received a $830,000 grant and a $830,000 loan from the federal Rural Development Administration to complete work on a public water system at Isom and Jeremiah.

. The Whitesburg Education Foundation has voted to give Southeast Community College the existing college property and a tract of land next to the college. The foundation will also purchase an additional tract of land next to the college and give it to SECC. All of the land will revert to the foundation if SECC ever stops using the property for a college.

. The Heinz Family Foundation has given its eighth annual Award for Arts and Humanities to Dudley Cocke, a writer and director with Appalshop’s Roadside Theater, whose show ‘Why the Cowboy Sings’ was performed at the Olympics on Sunday night.

. Johnny Ray Turner is Letcher County’s new senator. Redistricting by the Kentucky General Assembly moved Letcher County into Turner’s 29th District, moved the 91st House of Representative’s District to Breathitt, Lee and Estill counties, and split Letcher between the 92nd and 94th Districts.

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