Whitesburg KY
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The Way We Were



Clips from available Mountain Eagle pages since our founding in 1907

Thursday, March 4, 1926 The Letcher Fiscal Court has authorized the building of county roads from Eolia to the Harlan County line; from the mouth of Garner to the Knott County line, and from Jenkins to the Pike County line. Total mileage for all three projects is 15.

. The Kentucky State Highway Commission has pledged its support for construction of The Great Appalachian Trail, a highway that would connect Chicago, Illinois to Jacksonville, Florida. The shortest route between the two cities passes through Kentucky by way of the Kentucky River via Hazard, Whitesburg and across Pine Mountain to Eolia then on down the Cumberland River to the town of Poor Fork [now known as Cumberland]. From there, the road would cross Black Mountain at Lynch to Big Stone Gap, Virginia and on to Asheville, North Carolina.

. The examining trials of Thornton residents Sam Bates, Floyd Bates, and Hillard Bates, all charged with shooting and wounding Green Hall, also of Thornton, was held Monday. The boys were ordered held under $2,500 bonds while awaiting action by the next Letcher County Grand Jury.

. The Lexington Leader has written a story praising Whitesburg High School’s student newspaper, The Black Kat, saying it is “rapidly coming to the fore as one of the outstanding high school publications in the state.” The Leader noted that the January edition of The Black Kat was labeled “The Wedding Number” in honor of the double wedding of Mary Earle and Edison Lewis and Jessie Triplett and Oscar Lewis solemnized at the First Baptist Church in Whitesburg. The issue also honored newlyweds Virginia Harris and Stephen Combs Jr.

. Although Letcher County has a population of between 45,000 and 50,000, there has not been a single murder committed in the county so far during 1926, writes Mountain Eagle editor Nehemiah Webb.

. The Letcher County Jail became a little less crowded this week after 10 alleged violators of federal prohibition laws were taken to Jackson for trials in the federal courthouse there. The alleged offenders are expected to serve time in prison in Atlanta.

. “Business is grasping for life in Whitesburg because our roads are so bad we cannot get out and others cannot get in,” Eagle editor Webb writes about a conversation he had earlier in the week with a member of the Whitesburg Business Man’s Club.

Thursday, March 7, 1946 A brother who was awakened from sleeping on the second floor is being credited for saving the lives of the Ray Collins family of Little Colley when their home burned recently. Friends of Collins donated clothes, household items and money to his family during a household shower held over the weekend. Ray Collins’s brother [who was not identified] awoke to find he was trapped from getting down the stairs to warn the rest of the family. However, the brother was able to break out a window and jump to the ground. Despite a badly broken ankle he was able to awaken Ray and Estelle Collins and their children. Defective wiring caused the fire.

. Kernel Sexton is the new owner and operator of College Hill Restaurant, located behind the L&N Depot at Cowan Street’s junction with College Drive in Whitesburg. [Note: The building is the former WIFX-FM radio studio, and is best known now for the “Daniel Boone mural” painted on its side.]

. Reports are circulating throughout Letcher County that a petition is being circulated by “wets” in an effort to hold another local option election. The county was narrowly voted “dry” in 1943 [while many young Letcher County men were overseas fighting in World War II].

. Now open for business in Whitesburg is Reed Motor Company, under the management of Robert L. Reed and M.E. Dearing of Fleming. The two men have opened a garage in the old Frazier Building on Webb Street and are now the local agency for DeSoto and Plymouth cars. [Note: The Frazier Building is the current site of The Cozy Corner gift shop, The Thirsty Heifer restaurant, and the law office of Gene Smallwood.]

. United Mine Workers President John L. Lewis called on the coal industry this week to open wage negotiations covering some 400,000 soft-coal miners and simultaneously served notice he is ready to call a nationwide coal strike April 1 to enforce his demands.

. John Sturgill, 41, of Cowan, has died of injuries he suffered after being caught by a cutter bar in the Sandlick coal mine on Wednesday morning.

. The Letcher County Sheriff ’s Department said it destroyed an illegal still on Cumberland River this week that contained 2,000 gallons of beer. Officers don’t know who was operating the still, but said those responsible left the scene just before they arrived, noting the bootleggers left behind their lunches which consisted of country ham and egg sandwiches.

Thursday, March 1, 1956

Clarence and Carl Harlow, owners and operators of Harlow Motor of Neon, will erect a modern garage on property they purchased in Whitesburg recently from heirs of the late Henry Combs. Meanwhile, reports say Pigman Brothers Dry Cleaners has purchased a tract of land behind the Johnson Funeral Home in Whitesburg and will build a new dry cleaning plant there. Also, a new motel is expected to be built soon on property across from Craft Funeral Home in Whitesburg.

. One of two men charged in connection with the burning of the Club House in McRoberts on December 24, 1954, has been arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and will be returned here for trial. Joe Bates, 52, was indicted for his role in the fire in January 1955 along with Hassel Bentley of Potters Fork, who had just bought the building.

. Thirteen Kentucky coal miners were killed in underground accidents during the month of January, reports the state Department of Mines and Minerals.

. Fleming High School eliminated Linefork in both A and B games in the 53rd District Tournament Wednesday night. Whitesburg meets Jenkins as tourney action

resumes tonight. Kingdom Come High School is the host.

. Paladin of Kentucky, a two-year-old pointer dog owned by D.W. Little of Whitesburg and handled by Herman Smith, received high honors in the U.S. Open Derby Stakes in Hernando, Mississippi on February 15.

. Mr. and Mrs. Ivan Hall are the new parents of a baby boy, William Reed, born at Mount Mary Hospital in Hazard on February 27. Mr. and Mrs. Bill Fields are the maternal grandparents. Mr. and Mrs. Harve Hall are the paternal grandparents. [Note: William Reed Hall is now the pharmacist at Superior Pharmacy located inside Food City in Whitesburg.]

Thursday, March 3, 1966

The Department of Highways at Frankfort will receive bids March 25 for surfacing on the Hazard-Whitesburg road in Letcher County. The project will begin at Ky. 15 near Isom and will extend to the L&N Railroad crossing near the west city limits of Whitesburg.

. The Elinda Ann Drive-In Theater will not open this year, owner Billy Wayne Wright said this week. Wright said a self-service laundry will be opened in the theater’s main building within the next few weeks.

. The Letcher County Board of Health has passed a regulation governing the disposal of garbage and refuse in the county as the first step toward a countywide cleanup campaign. The regulation controls the establishment of garbage and refuse in the county as the first step toward a countywide cleanup campaign. The regulation controls the establishment of garbage dumps and transportation of garbage to them and provides penalties of $10 to $100 a day for violations.

. The Letcher Fiscal Court voted this week to take an option on the J.R. Robinette property at Mayking as a site for a county highway garage. The price for the property, which adjoins the state highway department garage and fronts U.S. 119, would be $15,000.

. P.M. Hogg, a junior at Fleming-Neon High School, is the district winner of the American Legion Oratorical Contest on “The Constitution — Our Tree of Liberty.” He received a $50 savings bond from Douglas Day Post 152 of Whitesburg. He is a son of Mr. and Mrs. Maynard Hogg of Neon. His speech teacher is Mrs. Lillian Webb. Hogg won the contest by defeating Sammy Hall of Jenkins High School and William “Terry” Cornett of Whitesburg High School.

Thursday, March 11, 1976

Fifteen men died Tuesday in an explosion at a Scotia Coal Co. mine near Ovenfork, less than 24 hours after a federal mine inspector had cited the section of the mine where they were working for three failures to observe its ventilation and methane and dust control plan. The explosion was the worst mine disaster in Letcher County’s history. At 7 p.m. Monday, federal Mining Enforcement Safety Administration (MESA) inspector Cecil Davis of Blackey noted that the No. 2 Southeast Main section of the mine had only 25 water sprays in operation out of a minimum total of 36 required by the mine’s supplemental ventilation plan. Davis issued a citation, directing that the violation be remedied by 4 p.m. the following day. But at 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, an explosion ripped through the southeast section of the mine, trapping the 15 men underground. Nine of the miners apparently died instantly. The other six men survived the blast, donned self-rescuers and attempted to build an airtight barricade against the bad air and poisonous gases surging through the mine tunnels. Their efforts failed. The average age of the dead in the Blue Diamond-owned mine was 27 years.

. The Neon City Jail, a four-bunk holdover in a back room of the town municipal building, is in danger of being closed down because it is unsanitary and dangerous

for prisoners. It won’t be closed if the city corrects the two most serious health hazards — jagged pieces of metal on cell walls and a commode system that could back up into the town water system — described in a recent state health inspector’s report.

Wednesday, March 12, 1986

State police spokesmen say Trooper Roger Smallwood delivered a baby boy to Wanda Couch, 25, of Slemp in Perry County. Smallwood was traveling on KY 15 around 8:12 a.m. Monday when a passing motorist about a mile south of Whitesburg flagged him down.

. State Rep. Hoover Dawahare this week said he decided not to seek re-election to the Kentucky House. He decided to withdraw from the race to devote more time to his family and his business interests in Whitesburg, Hazard and Lexington.

. The controversy surrounding the contract of Letcher School Superintendent Jack M. Burkich apparently will come to head tonight (Wednesday) at the county school board’s March meeting. Whether to renew Burkich’s fouryear contract is included on the agenda prepared for the meeting.

. A 5-1/2 foot statue of a soldier in combat gear may soon be erected in front of the Letcher County Courthouse. The statue, made of granite, will honor veterans of all branches of service. It will be placed in the area formerly used as a fountain in front of the war memorial plaque, Sheriff Ben Buster Taylor said.

Wednesday, March 13, 1996

Since 1990, the women of Benham have transformed a junk heap into a park, opened a thrift store to help pay for the city’s fire truck and recruited volunteers to put a new roof on Benham’s old theater. At the same time, they’ve taken over town politics. Five of six city council members are women, and in 1994, Betty Howard became Benham’s first female mayor. They are known affectionately as the Petticoat Mafia.

. Half the counties in the Kentucky River Area Development District had unemployment rates above 10 percent during January. Letcher County had the highest jobless rate, 10.8 percent.

Wednesday, March 8, 2006

Beginning Monday, March 13, Letcher County Central High School students will finally have classes at the new school site located at Ermine. All LCCHS students will meet at the old school site at Whitesburg. After attendance is taken in their homeroom classes, seniors and juniors will be taken by bus to the new school. Sophomores and freshmen will be taken after the upperclassmen arrive at the new site.

. A connector between the Blackey and Whitesburg water systems is the first priority of recommendations made by the Letcher County Water and Sewer District to the Letcher Fiscal Court for water and sewer projects to be funded with coal severance money for fiscal year 2006- 2007. The connector would allow water to be brought from either Blackey or Whitesburg in case of emergency or drought to serve the other system.

. The fatal shooting of Silas Eugene Sturgill, 27, by Jenkins City Police Officers Brian Damron and Adam Swindall was “a justifiable use of deadly force,” a Letcher County grand jury determined. Sturgill was shot October 9 after Swindall and Damron answered a call about domestic abuse, and Sturgill charged toward the two officers while armed with a knife.

. The Letcher County Central High School Lady Cougars won the 53rd District Tournament title over Knott Central, 75-66. The Lady Cougars will next meet Wolfe County, winner of the 55th District Tournament in the 14th Region Tournament.



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