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The Way We Were

Clips from available Mountain Eagle pages since our founding in 1907
Pictured here is the mushroom cloud of the first atomic explosion at Trinity Test Site, New Mexico, on July 16, 1945. It left a half-mile wide crater, ten feet deep at the vent and the sand within the crater had been burned and boiled into a highly radioactive, jade-green, glassy crust. The test occurred less than a month before an American B-29 bomber dropped the world’s first deployed atomic bomb over the Japanese city of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 and a second atomic bomb over Nagasaki on August 9. The twin bombings brought an end to the war but killed between 129,000 and 226,000 people, most of whom were civilians. Seventy-five years later they remain the only uses of nuclear weapons in armed conflict. (AP Photo)

Pictured here is the mushroom cloud of the first atomic explosion at Trinity Test Site, New Mexico, on July 16, 1945. It left a half-mile wide crater, ten feet deep at the vent and the sand within the crater had been burned and boiled into a highly radioactive, jade-green, glassy crust. The test occurred less than a month before an American B-29 bomber dropped the world’s first deployed atomic bomb over the Japanese city of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 and a second atomic bomb over Nagasaki on August 9. The twin bombings brought an end to the war but killed between 129,000 and 226,000 people, most of whom were civilians. Seventy-five years later they remain the only uses of nuclear weapons in armed conflict. (AP Photo)

THURSDAY JULY 18, 1940 

Kentucky is being called upon to supply its share of manpower to prepare the United States for defense, said Vego E. Barnes of the State Unemployment Compensation Commission. Recruiting of labor for defense industries has been assigned to the State Employment Service section of the Commission. A million or more men will be employed in the armament and allied industries of the defense program.

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The Internal Revenue Service has announced that the new Internal Revenue Act of 1940, which has for its purpose the raising of funds to pay for national defense, among others things increases the tax on cigarettes by 8½ percent, or one-half of a cent on a standard package of 20 cigarettes.

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The Jenkins baseball team which, up to last Thursday, had been undefeated, lost one of the games with the Knoxville Cherokees and won one. This speaks well of the Jenkins team, and, according to some, the Fourth of July games were the best ever played on the Jenkins diamond.

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“Hunchback of Notre Dame” starring Charles Laughton will be seen at the Bentley Theatre in Neon on Sunday and Monday. On Tuesday, “Too Busy to Work” with Spring Byington and Jed Prouty can been seen.

THURSDAY JULY 20, 1950

Three persons were arrested and charged with forgery in connection with bad checks in the amount of several hundred dollars which have appeared in Letcher County since February. Monroe Collins, Palmer Stidham and J.D. Barger, all of Perry County, were arrested. Collins’s wife was found to be wearing a pair of shoes identified by a local merchant as those brought with a bad check.

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The City of Neon has purchased the American Legion building, which will be remodeled and used as a town hall, according to Bill Tucker, Mayor of Neon. A first class sanitary jail will be erected in the building. It will also house the Neon Fire Department and all offices to be found in a municipal building.

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American medical corpsmen have been forced to blot out the red crosses on ambulances and hospital units on the Korean front because they are becoming favorite targets of the Communist soldiers.

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Frank Abdoo, Neon, recently attended the University of Kentucky fire school in Lexington. Mr. Abdoo received training in hose connection, ladder climbing, jumping, and other fire fighting essentials.

THURSDAY JULY 21, 1960

The Letcher County Public Library received a $2,100 check from Letcher Fiscal Court this week after an on-again, off-again round of discussions concerning the library, its works and its needs. The $2,100 represents $900 budgeted last year but never paid the library and $1,200 budgeted this year.

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Probably better known as a football standout, Jimmy “Red” Hall, former Fleming-Neon High School do-it-all, has gained his first varsity athletic letter at the University of Kentucky as a trackman. His track recognition came as a result of participation in three events — the discus, shot put and javelin.

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“Jerry Kincer, son of Mr. and Mrs. Ed Kincer, has returned to Army service after a visit with his parents and other relatives here,” writes Haymond and Potters Fork correspondent Mrs. Sherman Whitaker. “Jerry will soon be leaving for overseas duty.”

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A Letcher County girl is in training at Charleston, Ind., to become a longdistance operator. She is Phyllis A. York, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Coy York, formerly of Letcher County.

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A Sandlick Road youngster was ill this week with what doctors believe might be poliomyelitis. The Letcher County Health Department said the 14-year-old’s case had been diagnosed as possible polio. He has had three shots of Salk vaccine, the department said, and his case, if it is polio, appears to be a light one.

THURSDAY JULY 16, 1970

Letcher County today became the first mountain county to reach a negotiated agreement between teachers and the school board on salary and working conditions within the schools. The agreement provides for a $205 a year pay increase for all teachers, to be paid from local tax revenues. The $205 increase will be in addition to the $200 pay boost voted by the Kentucky General Assembly.

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A loaded gravel truck smashed into a coal train in Whitesburg Tuesday, killing the driver and causing extensive damage. The tandem tractor-tandem trailer truck was driven by Odie Lacefield of Welch’s Creek, 64, who was apparently jumping from the cab just at the time of the crash and lived for about two hours. The truck smashed into the fifth railroad car behind the engine. It derailed eight cars, knocking five cars off the tracks. Extensive damage was done to the rail lines and a railroad bridge.

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A Mountain Eagle editorial about the gravel truck crashing into a coal train, says, “Had there been a railroad overpass, the accident would not have happened; the truck driver would still be alive .… The Appalachian Regional Commission highway network being constructed in eastern Kentucky is extremely dangerous, outdated and inadequate to present-day highway needs. The ARC and the Kentucky Department of Highways are kidding themselves and the public when they claim they are bringing a modern, highspeed highway network to the mountains. We haven’t counted the railroad grade crossings along the 25-mile stretch of new road from Whitesburg to Hazard, but there must be well over a dozen.”

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A three-story apartment house for birds is located in the yard of Mr. and Mrs. Clarence Ison at Ice. It is one of a number of elaborate birdhouses built by George Caudill of Osgood, Ind., a brother of Eagle correspondent Siller Brown.

THURSDAY JULY 17, 1980

The City of Whitesburg will run its own electrical power system if a settlement isn’t reached soon with Kentucky Power Co. The city and the power company have been at odds over the city’s demand that the company pay four percent of its gross revenues from Whitesburg customers to the city for the right to operate a power franchise within the city limits. After the city extended a deadline to the company twice, the city council authorized Mayor Ferdinand Moore to appoint a committee to study what is needed to make the city’s own power company work. Several Kentucky cities operate their own electrical utility systems are most are able to use the proceeds for improvements such as parks and swimming pools.

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In what could bring about a significant change in the way coal mine safety laws are administered and obeyed, a federal grand jury in Roanoke, Va., last week brought 144 charges against the parent company of two Wise County, Va., coal mining operations and 17 company employees. Ninety-two of the charges are in an indictment against Clinchfield Coal Co. and 11 employees of the company’s Pilgrim Mine at Bold Camp. On the next day, the same jury brought 52 charges against United Castle Coal Co. of Blackwood, and six of its employees. A major portion of the indictment against Clinchfield charges that employees of the company “willfully took dust samples that were not from actual working areas.” At United Castle, many of the charges stem from workers “straying from mandatory roof control practice. Roof bolts were spaced too far apart and out of sequence, and temporary roof timbers were insufficient to support the roof,” a statement issued by the U.S. Attorney’s office said.

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A slide from an abandoned strip mine has completely blocked the road up Pacies Branch where Genida and Doyle Callahan, their five children, and Mrs. Callahan’s father live. The slide, a giant mass of silt, rocks and uprooted trees, broke loose from the mountainside during a heavy rain July 5 and gave a repeat performance last Thursday. Magistrate Lee Hogg, whose district includes Pases Branch, says without state and federal help the slide, which he estimates to be more than 150 feet long and at least 20 feet deep in the middle, will never be cleared. Hogg said both the federal Office of Surface Mining and the state Bureau for Reclamation sent inspectors to look at the slide, and both agencies told him there was nothing they could do to help.

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Sherrill Slone is the new principal for Letcher High and Elementary Schools. He replaces longtime principal D.C. Taylor, who retired.

WEDNESDAY JULY 18, 1990

After two months of intense campaigning on both sides, more than 700 hourly employees at South East Coal Co. will vote next week on whether they want to be represented by the United Mine Workers of America. Officials with the National Labor Relations Board will be in three eastern Kentucky counties to conduct a “representation election” at the South East operations. The NLRB scheduled the election in May when more than 400 workers filled out cards asking from representation by the UMW. The employees approached the union in April after the company cut their medical insurance benefits. They are also upset over not receiving a pay raise since 1981. South East hopes to defeat the union by convincing workers that the company has been financially strapped for several years and would pay higher wages and provide better insurance if it could afford to.

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The Blackey Community Center, the last community center in the county owned by the people of the community, burned to the ground early July 12, taking an empty house next door with it. Fire officials have called in a state police arson investigator to determine the cause of the blaze. The two structures were the third and fourth buildings to burn in Blackey in three days. Fire destroyed an unoccupied house in Woodrock, just across the river from Blackey, on July 10 and burned the Woody Mullins home in the west end of Blackey that night.

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Arch Mineral Corporation of St. Louis, Missouri, reportedly has purchased Blue Diamond Coal Company, one of the largest coal companies in Letcher County. Employees at Blue Diamond’s Scotia Mines at Ovenfork said they were told when they left work Monday that Arch officials had signed the documents to buy the company. They said Arch officials toured the mine last week.

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Eugene Meade, a native of Letcher County, will be chief administrator of the new Whitesburg Campus of Southeast Community College. Meade will begin his duties July 23. His title will be assistant dean of student affairs for the Whitesburg Campus.

WEDNESDAY JULY 12, 2000

Wilford Niece, a former Letcher County coal operator accused of dealing in cocaine and stolen vehicles, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Pikeville to two charges. Niece, 61, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 5 kilograms of cocaine and to receiving stolen property. He also agreed to forfeit $200,000 worth of vehicles sought by the federal government as restitution for his crime. He will be sentenced October 12. Niece had already been indicted on the cocaine charge and on the forfeiture count. He had not previously been charged in the investigation of a vehicle “chop shop” discovered here, though police had openly said Niece rented one of the warehouses where stolen vehicles were found.

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Funeral services will be held here Friday for former Whitesburg resident Virginia Harris Combs, who died in Lexington at the age of 99. Mrs. Combs was the widow of Stephen Combs Jr., an attorney and circuit judge here. She taught school in Letcher County for many years. During her college years she played basketball and was forward on the 1921 state championship team. For many years Mrs. Combs wrote a weekly column for The Mountain Eagle about happenings in Whitesburg.

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Former Fleming-Neon Mayor James Seals pleaded guilty Monday to lying on documents required to get assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency after a flood in 1988. Seals admitted that he signed documents indicating that the work would be done by Niece Trucking, then did the work himself with his own construction company.

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Letcher County is in a financial bind again — and it’s likely to stay there until state money starts rolling in a month or so from now. The fiscal court on Monday night started to vote to pay bills, but County Treasurer Phillip Hampton interrupted to remind members of the court that they first had to tell him where to get the money. The court had about $207,000 in bills, but only $36,000 in the bank that could be used. The court actually has more that $2.2 million in the bank, but most of that money is coal severance tax money earmarked for specific projects. The court voted to ask the state to let it borrow part of that coal severance tax money and pay it back when its regular revenue comes in.

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“Me, Myself and Irene” starring Jim Carrey is playing this week at the Jeremiah Drive-In Theatre along with “Big Mama’s House”.

WEDNESDAY JULY 14, 2010

More than 300 graduates and their friends, including several from California, Florida and other distant states, attended an all-classes reunion of the old Whitesburg High School held at the Downtown/ Hilton Hotel in Lexington.

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Jenkins Mayor Charles Dixon challenged council member Terry Braddock to accompany city workers as they conduct meter readings and to examine city financial records if he believes there is any wrongdoing going on in the city. Dixon spoke in response to a letter in the July 7 Mountain Eagle in which Braddock accused Dixon of inflating water bills and intimidating customers.

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Thirty people are named in 33 indictments handed down by the Letcher Grand Jury on July 7 including 11 people accused of drug charges and six people of burglary charges.

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Letcher County Clerk Winston Meade said three Kentucky companies and a Texas company want to purchase 2009 Letcher County delinquent tax bills. People have until 4 p.m. on July 27 to pay their bills. Then the delinquent taxes will be sold to outside companies. Meade says he knows someone who ended up paying $1,400 for his taxes during a court settlement when the original amount owed was $154. He said once lawyers’ fees, court fees and interest are added the total amount can accumulate to large sums of money.

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