Whitesburg KY

The way we were

Clips from Mountain Eagle front pages over the past 50 years



July 19, 1962

Architects and engineers who visited Letcher County last weekend to look over the site for the proposed Cloud City tourist development were visibly impressed with what they saw. Lexington landscape architect John Scruggs called the view from Pine Mountain “the most spectacular bit of scenery not only in Kentucky but in several surrounding states.” Architect Charles Graves of Lexington, made similar remarks. Graves, Scruggs and architects John Hill and Don Wallace and engineer Hugh Dillehay met with the board of Cloud City to discuss feasibility studies and long-range plans.


It was a hard week for staff of The Mountain Eagle. The headline SORRY! led this explanation: “Someday, we hope, the trials of running a weekly newspaper will be funny to us and then we can write a book about them and make lots of money.

“Until that day comes, though, we continue to moan and groan over circumstances like this one which made this late getting to you.

“The difficulties were technical — something in the press just would not function right for about two days, although it did last week and is again now after we tinkered a while.

“Nobody is sorrier when a paper is delayed than we are — particularly this week, for we had planned to be in Barbourville Friday and Lexington Saturday.

“One of us remarked when we planned the trip, though, that something was bound to act up, and if a press didn’t break a child would get sick. Luck was with us — both things happened.

“We have discovered that the trouble with a do-ityourself business is that you have to do it yourself — and if something breaks we have to stop and fix it.

“Everything in the paper is edited, typed and printed by the two of us, and much of it is written in the office, too. Therefore, when something doesn’t function, everything has to change until it’s fixed. We just wanted you to know:

“1. It is not the fault of the post office.

“2. We are not goofing off and just neglect to get out a paper.

“3. We appreciate your patience when something goes wrong. We hope you continue to find The Old Bird worth waiting for.”

July 20, 1972

An overall guide for the development of Letcher County has been adopted by the Fleming, Jenkins, Neon and Letcher County Planning Commission, but not before strong doubts and questions were raised by some who attended a public hearing on the proposed plan. The “Comprehensive Plan and Initial Housing Element” now goes to Letcher Fiscal Court, which will be asked to approve it at its next meeting.


Harry B. Rainer, a native of Seco who became a major gure in the highway and mining industries in eastern Kentucky, died last week in Paintsville. He was 56.


Three Miners for Democracy candidates for office in the United Mine Workers union were in Neon for radio interviews this week. In 1959, when the last UMW election was held, Letcher County was one place which reform candidates did not visit because they thought they would not be welcome.

July 22, 1982

The City of Neon is having problems with grants, with police and with crime. The federal Economic Development Administration is threatening to withdraw a $4.4 million grant for a proposed sewer system unless other federal agencies also come up with some money. A total of 181 persons signed a petition seeking the dismissal of a city policeman. And members of the city council voted 3-1 to fire any city employee caught sleeping on the job after citizens complained that city policemen have not been doing their job in preventing robberies.


The Letcher County Board of Education says it will begin condemnation proceedings against L&N Railroad to obtain property at Ermine owned by the railroad and wanted by the school board as a site for a new high school.


Miners are still on strike at Scotia Coal Company and about 20 employees at Beth-Elkhorn’s preparation plant at Dunham have been laid off because there is no demand for the coal.


Two Letcher County men have been arrested for operating illegal strip mines near the Knott-Letcher County line.

July 22, 1992

The Letcher County Board of Education unanimously rejected the proposed reinstatement of paddling in the Letcher County schools.


The Letcher County Public Library Board voted to name the children’s section of the proposed Harry M. Caudill Memorial Library for the late Belinda Mason Carden, a Letcher County native who became a national leader in the fight against AIDS after she contracted the disease from blood transfusions during childbirth.


More than half of the 3,800 women hired as coal miners since 1983 have been laid off. In 1978, about 2 percent of new hires were women, but the next year total hiring — including both men and women — dropped from 40,000 to 4,000.

July 24, 2002

Belinda Hammonds Cook, the estranged wife of murder victim Timothy Louis ‘Blister’ Cook, pleaded guilty earlier this month to contacting a man who was a suspect in her husband’s murder and telling the man’s wife that police were trying to find him. The man was later cleared as a suspect, but police say he is a witness in the case.


Cook and Sons Mining of Whitesburg recently received the Kentucky Department for Employment Services’ Employer Achievement Award. Cook and Sons Mining was recognized for its outstanding work with the Harlan DES field office and its leadership on workforce issues in the community.


The Fleming-Neon High School football Pirates will be introduced Friday at the school football field. Admission to the event is soap, a towel or $2.

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