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The Way We Were

Pictured above is a portion of the front page of the August 5, 1948 edition of The Mountain Eagle, which included a story and photograph of an architect’s rendering of a new building that was to open soon in downtown Neon.

Pictured above is a portion of the front page of the August 5, 1948 edition of The Mountain Eagle, which included a story and photograph of an architect’s rendering of a new building that was to open soon in downtown Neon.

Clips from available Mountain Eagle pages since our founding in 1907

THURSDAY, AUGUST 9, 1928 Citizens of Whitesburg and Letcher County met Wednesday night to protest against the state highway department’s plans for hard-surfacing the road between Ermine and Marlowe without also widening the stretch. It was only discovered earlier yesterday that the department does not plan to increase the width of the narrow, dangerous road, which has been the site of many fatal traffic accidents. A committee of county citizens, including Judge Noah Bentley, attorney Harry L. Moore, and Dr. B.F. Wright, was named last night to travel to Frankfort on Saturday to voice the community’s protest.

. The 22-piece Hazard Ice Cream Company band will come to Whitesburg Sunday to play at the Hardburly vs. Whitesburg baseball game being held here and to boost the sales of the company’s ice cream at the Childers Drug Store.

. Dr. Jethra Hancock, director of the Bureau of Venereal Diseases of the Kentucky Board of Health, has been in Letcher County for several days assisting the local health department.

. Miss Alda Hammonds, night telephone operator, left Tuesday night for her vacation to Mt. Sterling, Kentucky.

. Prohibition Officer Clark Day destroyed 35 gallons of illegal brandy in downtown Whitesburg Friday night, pouring the drink into a gutter leading to the North Fork of the Kentucky River.

. Hogg Drug Company holds the Rexall Store franchise for Whitesburg and is now selling Whitman’s Sampler candies.

THURSDAY, AUGUST 4, 1938 The new Madison Avenue Bridge in Whitesburg was open to traffic at 10:30 a.m. Friday when Mayor Bill Collins rode in the first car to cross the bridge. The bridge was then closed until 8:30 Friday evening, when beer and cheese sandwiches were served to all.

. Coy Whitson, 42, was shot and killed early Thursday morning near his home on Craft’s Colly. Police are looking for Wibby Reynolds, a neighbor to Whitson, who is said to have fired the fatal shot. No motive was given for the incident, which resulted in Whitson being shot in the right eye with a .410-gauge shotgun. Whitson was a Letcher County native employed as a grader operator of the state highway department. He was to be buried tomorrow (August 5) in the Blair Cemetery at Pert Creek.

. The Whitco What-Nots lost a close decision to the Whitesburg Jug-Heads, champions of the Skyline League, in a hotly contested softball battle at Ryefi eld Stadium at Whitco. The game was a pitchers’ battle until the last half of the first inning when the Jug-Heads scored 15 runs on seven walks and nine errors. Whitesburg went on to win by the score of 22 to 2. Just before the game began, the Jug-Heads’ management announced the sale outright of flashy second baseman Jughead Lewis to the Linefork Leap Frogs.

. Three men were shot, one fatally, during an exchange of gunfire that broke up a meeting of Alben Barkley of U.S. Senate precinct committeemen in the Hargis Bank Building in Jackson on Thursday night. Former Breathitt County Sheriff Lee Combs, 33, assistant manager of the Breathitt County for A.B. Chandler campaign, died a few minutes after he was struck by three bullets. Lewis Combs, the Chandler campaign chairman and brother of the sheriff, was wounded in the side. The current Breathitt County Sheriff, Walter Deaton, who is also a Chandler supporter, was shot once in the arm. The shooting allegedly started after an argument between Sollie Combs, the father of two of the shooting victims, and Breathitt County Jailer William Combs, who is Barkley’s campaign chairman in Breathitt County.

. A 30-year-old Perry County woman died tragically Sunday when she was electrocuted while attending a swimming party and picnic at Sandy Beach near Viper. Mrs. Thelma Lykins Baker was killed after she rode a trolley swing from the beach down into the North Fork of the Kentucky River and made contact with the water about the same time the insulation wore off a live wire that had come into contact with the trolley. Mrs. Baker’s two children, six and 13, witnessed the tragedy.

. Workers with the Works Progress Administration (WPA) have opened up the road to traffic from Cumberland in Harlan County to the mouth of Defeated Creek in Letcher County. “Only those who have been so completely isolated from the outside world as Linefork has been can appreciate what this means to us,” writes The Mountain Eagle’s anonymous Linefork correspondent. “It is prima facie evidence that we have been grossly neglected in the past where good roads are concerned.”

THURSDAY, AUGUST 5, 1948 A new block-long business and apartment building is set to open soon in downtown Neon. The two-story structure replaces an entire block of buildings that burned a couple of years ago. [See related photograph and information elsewhere on this page.]

. William Alexander Wood, a bridge inspector for the C&O Railroad, was killed instantly at Deane July 30 when he lost

control of a crane while he was inspecting a bridge on Rockhouse. A resident of Buckingham, Virginia, he was 43 years old.

. Saying “I am ready to meet Jesus,” Jasper Nease, a 24-year-old soldier from McRoberts, was executed in the state’s electric chair at Eddyville on July 30. Nease was one of three soldiers condemned to die in the robbery-slaying of Vernon Hodge, a former World War II paratrooper from Louisville. Awaiting execution at Eddyville are Daniel T. McPeek, 22, of Dublin, Virginia and Herbert Workman, 19, of Tesla, West Virginia. Before Nease became the 141st man to die in the chair since it was established in 1911, Warden Jesse Buchanan told him, “Jasper, you have made a good prisoner since I have been here.” Talking to a newsman before his death, Nease said, “I’ve never been able figure it out” why he took part in the slaying. “I realize it’s too late now to be sorry, but I want everyone to know that I am sorry. I suppose that we were drinking whiskey too much that night, although I don’t believe any one of us was drunk.” Nease ate only a small portion of his last meal, a chicken dinner served in the afternoon. He spent most of the time before his death alone and reading his Bible.

. In his final letter to his mother before he met death in Kentucky’s electric chair, Jasper Nease wrote, “God bless you, Mother. Jesus loves and saves … Love always to you, Mother. I really hate to stop writing this letter to you as I love you too much, but I pray that we will meet in a very much better home with Jesus. Love to you forever and ever.”

. Brent Niece, the father of Jasper Nease, who was put to death in the electric chair July 30, has published a statement in this week’s edition of The Mountain Eagle thanking the warden and fellow prisoners at the Kentucky State Reformatory at La Grange for taking up donations in the prison to allow him to attend the funeral of his son. Niece, of McRoberts, gives special thanks to inmates Floyd Bates and Leonard Fields, who came up with the idea for raising the donations and carried out the plan. Niece is serving a sentence he received for trying to hide a car his son and two other men stole from a Louisville man after murdering him.

THURSDAY, AUGUST 7, 1958 A state official has recommended that Letcher County’s eight magistrates be removed from office because they have failed to pass a budget to govern county expenditures for the current year. Letcher County Attorney F. Byrd Hogg and County Court Clerk Charlie Wright said Dave M. Magill, state local finance officer for the Department of Revenue, advised them this week that the magistrates ought to be impeached.

. Letcher Fiscal Court has refused to approve appointment of a county patrol. The county’s eight magistrates said that if they couldn’t pay themselves they couldn’t pay patrolmen to staff the new agency proposed by Judge Arthur Dixon.

. A small portion of Letcher County’s gutted and rutted road system is to receive a new coat of blacktopping from the state. In all, 17 miles of state-maintained roads in Letcher County will be resurfaced.

. Charles Haynes, manager of the Neon A&P Store for the past four months, has been promoted to a job as manager of the A&P store at Hazard. Haynes, a Letcher County native, began working for A&P at its Whitesburg store 13 years ago. He will be replaced at the Neon store by Bob Adams, a Letcher County native who has been working at the A&P store in Harlan.

. The late resignations of at least three teachers pose difficult problems for Jenkins Independent School administrators

and are prime examples of the way schools in eastern Kentucky are losing out, Superintendent C.V. Snapp says. Snapp said the teachers are leaving for better pay and better school facilities elsewhere. For instance, he said the district is losing its music teacher, Mrs. Gertrude Thomas, to an Ohio school system that will pay her $5,600 more annually.

. Funeral services were held at Letcher for Airman A2/c Jimmie C. Holcomb, who was killed July 20 in an auto wreck while serving in Germany.

. Clark Gable and Doris Day star in “Teacher’s Pet,” showing at the Alene Theatre in Whitesburg August 10 and 11.

THURSDAY, AUGUST 1, 1968 Twenty parents of students at Kingdom Come High School have filed suit in Franklin Circuit Court in an effort to keep the high school in operation. The Kentucky State Board of Education ordered the school closed. The parents argue that both the state and local school boards have systematically prevented the expenditure of any money on improvements needed at the school and thus allowed it to become substandard.

. Letcher Circuit Judge Stephen Combs and Commonwealth’s Attorney Emmett Fields announced they will no longer release the names of persons indicted as soon as the indictments are returned by the grand jury, but will keep them secret for 30 days in order to give officers time to serve papers and make arrests before the names of those accused become public.

. The Whitesburg Jaycees have named William Terrell Cornett the outstanding teenager in Letcher County for 1968. Cornett, a sophomore in the honors program at Pikeville College, is the author of “Letcher County, Ky. — A Brief History”, which he completed while he was in high school and “A History of Pike County, Ky.”, which is not yet published.

. Ice correspondent Siller Brown warns readers that, “it’s dangerous now about snakes so be careful.” She reports the killing of a copperhead and the hospitalization of Mrs. Ronnie Brown, who had been bitten on the foot by a copperhead she encountered in her garden.

THURSDAY, JULY 27, 1978 Some 5,700 Letcher County students will return to school on August 14 for the opening of the 1978-79 school term. If the school calendar is followed without missing any days for bad weather or other emergencies, school will close on May 14.

. A treacherous slide on Jent Mountain will prevent school buses from picking up children at Carcassonne and Bull Creek when school starts in two weeks, parents say, and the county has not even begun to make permanent repairs to the road. “The road broke off last April and since then no school bus has been able to get through,” said a Bull Creek resident.

. Funeral services for Harry LaViers Sr., 78, were held in Paintsville. Mr. LaViers was chairman of South East Coal Co. and had been a strong influence in eastern Kentucky from the early 1930s, both in the development of the Kentucky coal industry and in public affairs.

. “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” is playing this week at the Alene Theatre in Whitesburg.

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 3, 1988 In a profile of Italian-born stonemason John Palumbo, William T. Cornett calls him a “poet in stone.” Mr. Palumbo was responsible for many of the stone buildings and bridges found in Letcher County. He built himself a stone house on Cowan Street on School Hill and married a Letcher County woman, Della Howard.

. Letcher County officials are working on a plan to distribute more than 16,000 pounds of new and used clothing. The clothes were collected by a National Guard unit in Tennessee, whose members then brought them to Whitesburg in a tractor-trailer truck.

. No candidates have filed yet to run for three seats on the Letcher County School Board. County court clerk William Wright said several potential candidates have picked up applications to run for the board seats, but none of the forms have been filed.

WEDNESDAY, JULY 29, 1998 Classified employees of the Letcher County school system are asking the Letcher County Board of Education to reconsider its decision to give them an annual raise of only 2.3 percent for the coming school year. Peggy Wilcox, president of the Letcher-County chapter of KESPA, a statewide organization for classified employees, told the school board that it should give some of its $2 million in carryover funds to classified employees.

. Most pupils from Campbell’s Branch Elementary School, which will not reopen this year, will attend classes at Letcher Elementary School, county school officials said. Campbell’s Branch Principal Shelby Watts and teacher Irene Thomas have retired.

. Smoking will be limited to two designated areas in the new Letcher County Courthouse and Jail. County officials say the new regulation will help the county’s taxpayers protect the building, which cost $4.5 million to renovate.

. New Whitesburg boys’ basketball coach Danny Bates was introduced to prospective players and their parents on Monday. Bates, 28, is a Letcher High School and Morehead State University graduate who served as an assistant the past two seasons under Knox Central coach Scott Broughton.

WEDNESDAY, JULY 30, 2008 Mine operator Alpha Natural Resources this week became the latest coal company with ties to Letcher County to report second-quarter profits that met or exceeded expectations. Alpha, which operates Enterprise Mining in Letcher County, said it earned $74.3 million, or $1.04 per share, in the quarter — a figure that nearly doubled Wall Street’s expectations on rising coal prices. Also reporting strong second-quarter profits were St. Louis-based Arch Coal Inc., which operates Cumberland River Coal Co. in Letcher County, and West Virginia-based International Coal Group, which is planning to open a mine at Thornton.

. Students in the Jenkins Independent School System will start school with a new superintendent, a raise in cafeteria costs, and questions about the possibility of fuel surcharges being added to athletic programs and other extracurricular activities. Renovations were made on all three campuses and a new heating and cooling system for the middle high school, although not complete, will not delay the opening of schools.

. Steady employment in the energy industry has helped Letcher County to become one of only 10 counties in Kentucky where the unemployment rate is lower now than it was a year ago. Letcher County reported a jobless rate of 7.7 percent in June, down from 8.4 percent in the same month in 2007.

. With a combined total of 16 goals, the Letcher County Lightning soccer team won the silver medal in the Bluegrass State Games in Lexington. The team has been undefeated in southeastern Kentucky for four seasons.

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