Whitesburg KY
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The Way We Were

Clips from available Mountain Eagle pages since our founding in 1907

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 2, 1909

“Is there any danger of Halley’s Comet, which you told of last week, bringing disaster and destruction to the inhabitants of the earth?” Those words are written by the anonymous author of a letter to the editor of The Mountain Eagle. “No such calamity is foreboded by Halley’s or any other comet,” answers Eagle editor Nehemiah M. Webb. The comet is expected to be visible from earth with the naked eye in the early spring of 1910.

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 5, 1929

A special train carried the Jenkins High School football team and its fans to Van Lear on Thanksgiving Day for a game between the Cavaliers and Bank Mules that ended in a 0-to-0 tie. Both communities are home to Consolidation Coal Company mines. The Bank Mules almost scored the winning touchdown when they had the ball inside the Cavaliers’ one-yard line on third down, but the Jenkins defense held.

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Explorer Richard Byrd, brother of popular Virginia governor Harry Byrd, flew over the South Pole on November 29 with three companions onboard. He was also the first person to fly over the North Pole.

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Letcher County Judge Sergent has a fine set of deer horns he is going to use as hat racks. Sergent said the fiscal court’s five Republicans will use the five-point rack while the Democrats use the three-point rack “without getting their politics mixed.”

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Mines at Fleming, Haymond, and Hemphill are operating every day now, meaning that all company-owned housing is now full.

THURSDAY DECEMBER 1, 1949

Funeral services were held Tuesday for Junior Breeding, who was killed in a slate fall at the Elk Horn Coal Corporation’s Hemphill mine Nov. 26. He was 27.

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Fire destroyed the Tillie schoolhouse Monday. The building, located about 12 miles from Whitesburg, burned to the ground. About 110 students attended the school. The teachers are Jewellene Breeding, John Quincy Adams and Pauline Whitaker Frazier. School officials are trying to secure two nearby church buildings for classrooms until other arrangements can be made.

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Thieves broke into the Quillen Drug Company in Whitesburg Sunday and made off with an estimated $1,000 worth of jewelry, watches and other items. The thieves entered the building through a transom over the back door. It was the third robbery in Whitesburg in less than two weeks. On the night of Nov. 16, three men held up the night operator at the L&N depot. The following night, Pigman’s Grocery was robbed of between $50 and $60 worth of groceries.

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The Whitesburg Comets, independent basketball team, will play the Lynch Independents at the Whitesburg gym Saturday at 7:00. Admission for the game will be 25 and 50 cents.

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“Thunder Mountain” starring Tim Holt will play Dec. 2 at the Elinda Ann Drive-In Theatre. “Rustlers” starring Tim Holt and Richard Martin will play at the Haymond Theatre, also on Dec. 2. On Dec. 3, “Bomba, The Jungle Boy” can be seen at the Haymond Theatre.

THURSDAY DECEMBER 3, 1959

Whitesburg’s city water supply has been unsafe for drinking without boiling for the past several weeks, although it may be safe now. Fire Chief Remious Day said it had been discovered that the chlorine injector was not working, and that no chlorine was going into the water. This was corrected, he said, and now the proper amount of chlorine is being added to the water. But pending further scientific testing, no one could say whether the water was safe.

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A polio benefit show featuring some local and imported hillbilly talent will be held at the Whitesburg High School gym on Friday night, Dec. 11. Main feature is a Miss Brenda Lee, whose press agent claims she is a celebrated TV star.

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Letcher County is preparing to open, dedicate and occupy “the finest school plant in this part of the state” as the new Letcher High and Grade School is nearing completion on Rockhouse Creek near Jeremiah. The building is designed to accommodate 700 students and a faculty of 25.

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Letcher County football players dominated the annual EKMC all-star teams picked by the coaches. The state scoring champion, Roger Kincer, and all-state aspirant Bert Bradshaw of Whitesburg, all-state aspirants James Mahn and Ralph Clark of Jenkins, and William Stambaugh of Fleming-Neon made the coveted first team. Bill Howard, Jenkins; Wayne Barker, Whitesburg and Harlan Seals and Chester Isaacs, Fleming-Neon were second-team choices.

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There are 71 active cases of tuberculosis in Letcher County. There are 236 inactive cases in the county. Kentucky law says all active cases of tuberculosis be hospitalized if his doctor advises it. Dr. R. Dow Collins, County Health Officer, pointed out that a patient with active tuberculosis can be sent to the county jail for six months.

THURSDAY NOVEMBER 27, 1969

The United Mine Workers will elect officers on December 9 and for the first time in many years there is a serious challenge to the entrenched union leadership. Joseph A. Yablonksi is running against UMW President W.A. “Tony” Boyle. Yablonski’s platform includes broad reforms in the UMW pension system and a special convention to rewrite the UMW constitution.

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“The time has come when Kentucky should adopt a severance tax upon coal so that ordinary citizens of the commonwealth can share in the great prosperity now enjoyed by the coal industry,” says a Mountain Eagle editorial. “Evidence continues to pile up that the national demand for coal far exceeds the available supply — and that, as a result, the owners of coal mines will be greatly enriched during the years ahead. . . . If they must have our coal, let them pay for it, and let them pay enough to halt the abuse of land and people which is the hallmark of the Kentucky coal industry.”

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R. Percy Elkins has received a certificate of election as the mayor of Jenkins. Elkins won by two votes over a write-in candidate, former Mayor Bill Terrill.

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Funeral services for PFC Andrew B. Sexton were held November 17 at the Freewill Baptist Church at Whitco. PFC Sexton was mortally wounded while serving his country in Vietnam. He was the son of Archie and Mae Hughes Sexton of Sergent.

THURSDAY NOVEMBER 22, 1979

The November Grand Jury returned indictments against Jenkins Mayor Jesse Bates, County Road Foreman George Wyatt and Fleming-Neon Chief of Police Carlus Slone. Bates and Wyatt are accused of using county equipment, employees and material to repair a private road. Slone is charged with receiving stolen property, bribery and terroristic threatening.

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Junior Ray Whitaker, 46, of Hallie, was shot to death Friday, allegedly by two of his relatives in what state police say was a dispute over some land. George Whitaker and his son, Waylon Whitaker, were taken into custody, charged with murder, and lodged in the Letcher County Jail.

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Gene Wilder stars in “The Frisco Kid”, playing this weekend at the Alene Theatre.

WEDNESDAY NOVEMBER 29, 1989

Falling tax rolls have caused rising tax rates in the Jenkins Independent School District, pushing school taxes into the 70-cents-per-$100 range. The Jenkins School Board approved its general budget for the 1989-90 fiscal year — a budget based on a tax base that fell more than $60,000 from last year.

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Property tax bills are behind schedule this year, but they are being mailed out now. The tax bills were held up for several weeks this year, apparently in part because of controversy over the assessment of un-mined minerals.

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Fourth-grade students at West Whitesburg Elementary School sent in lists of things for which they are thankful to The Mountain Eagle for Thanksgiving week. Most lists include their families, food, homes, health and clothes, although one boy is also thankful “for men who built colleges so we can learn how to play pro football.”

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John Lynch of Letcher High School won first place in individual competition in science at the 19th annual Sigma Zeta Math-Science competition at Clinch Valley College. Naveen Rao of Whitesburg High School won honorable mention in science.

WEDNESDAY NOVEMBER 24, 1999

“The Kentucky court system now has joined Gov. Patton and the legislature to deal a crushing blow to the state’s working coal miners,” says an Eagle editorial. “The governor, the legislature and the courts now say: ‘Suffer and die from black lung. No one cares. You won’t get a single dime in compensation. You don’t deserve it.’ . . . The legislature, at the prodding of coal operator/Governor Paul Patton, slashed the Workers’ Compensation law two years ago. Essentially that action stops any prospect of compensation for miners whose lung fill with dust and lose the capacity to function. Working miners, however, clung to a hope that the courts would come to their rescue. Now that hope has been crushed. The Kentucky Supreme Court this week ruled that dying miners cannot go outside the Workers’ Compensation program to seek damages.”

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Thanksgiving might not be very bright for some Letcher County residents. The Letcher County Food Pantry, the last place some families here can turn to before going hungry, reported an increase of nearly 50 percent in the number of families it fed last month. Chairman Jackie Joseph said, “We fed 88 families in October, where we usually would feed 30 or 40 at the most. We don’t know why.”

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Nearly 100,000 acres of forestland have burned in Kentucky this year. Most of the fires were intentionally set. And with rainfall still more than 15 inches below normal for the year, there’s little relief in sight. During the past two weeks there were four fires in Letcher County. About 1,000 acres have burned here. Most of the fires are believed to be arson.

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Letcher High School seniors George Adams and Zack Smith combined for 21 third-quarter points to lift the Eagles to an 86-55 season-opening victory over visiting Lee County. The Whitesburg High School Yellowjackets came from 17 points down to defeat Allen Central 85-83.

WEDNESDAY NOVEMBER 25, 2009

The Letcher County Board of Education voted this week to require six schools whose students have already missed more than two days of class this school year to be in session during two days of Christmas break. The decision affects Beckham Bates, Cowan, Letcher, Martha Jane Potter and West Whitesburg elementary schools and Whitesburg Middle School.

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Whitesburg hospital administrators say a major renovation and expansion project could be completed in 18 months. The plan calls for construction of a 15,000-square-foot addition for clean surgical, postpartum, obstetrics and nursery as well as renovations to the third floor.

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The nation’s first county-by-county survey of obesity and diabetes shows that Letcher County has the highest percentage of overweight people in Kentucky, and is tied for third highest in the state for the number of residents who have been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, which is closely tied to obesity.

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“With each year that passes I’m more aware of the beauty of nature that envelops us here in the mountains,” writes Eolia correspondent Brenda Gross. “Especially this time of year, when the frost off the neighbor’s roof glistens like jewels in the sunlight, and the smell of wood smoke from a nearby chimney fills the air.”

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